The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program offers college students scholarships and stipends in exchange for their service as officers in the American military. ROTC began in 1916 as part of the pre–World War I Preparedness movement; it then underwent fundamental changes at the start of the Cold War. Once a program designed to give young men a basic introduction to military service so that they might be able to serve in the military in the event of war or other national crisis, ROTC became instead an essential source of active-duty officers for the growing Cold War military. Two years of ROTC were required for men at most universities that hosted the program, but the expense of training thousands of men who would not ...

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