In high schools across the United States, young student cadets fill the ranks of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). Despite their stated virtues, the growth of these JROTC programs, sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, have triggered a polarized debate over military recruitment of America’s middle school and high school students. This entry describes the evolution of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and the debate over the efficacy and proliferation of thousands of JROTC programs in schools across the United States.

Legislative Foundation

First conceived in 1911 by Army Lieutenant Edgar A. Steevers, the JROTC program officially began in 1916 as a means to increase military readiness during World War I. The National Defense Act of 1916 authorized army ...

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