ROTC returns after decades-long hiatus

Earlier this month, students enrolled in the new ROTC units at Yale were recognized in the war veterans’ memorial in Woolsey Hall.
Earlier this month, students enrolled in the new ROTC units at Yale were recognized in the war veterans’ memorial in Woolsey Hall. Photo by Tapley Stephenson.

For the first time in decades, Yale students will today attend courses on campus as part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Twenty-one students are participating in the return of a program that left campus in 1972, amid protests against the Vietnam War. Yale’s restored Naval and Air Force units are smaller than those typical of ROTC programs — with 11 and 10 Yale students, respectively — and they lack a senior class to provide leadership. But ROTC officials say the units will grow over time, and they are adapting the program’s leadership structure to fit the makeup of their younger cohort.

“You can’t hold more than one leadership position, so there are going to be some incoming freshmen and sophomores who have never seen or done anything with the military who will have leadership positions,” said Andrew Hendricks ’14, an Air Force cadet. “But it will have us communicate better as a team and work harder if we want this to work out.”

In light of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring gays and lesbians from serving openly, ROTC units remained absent from campus until the policy was repealed in December 2010. The University signed agreements with the Navy and Air Force over the next few months allowing both service branches to reinstate their ROTC programs on campus.

The newly formed naval unit is composed of 10 freshmen and one sophomore, while the Air Force unit has no Yale seniors and only four juniors. Col. Scott Manning, Yale’s Air Force ROTC commander, said he expects that older cadets will assume leadership positions, and that instructors will take extra steps to “mentor and groom this initial group.”

In an effort to develop a chain of command for the new naval unit, ROTC officials will select the unit’s platoon commander and sergeant from among the underclassmen today, based on their performances during a Aug. 11-18 orientation. Lt. Molly Crabbe said larger groups of midshipmen, which can reach hundreds of students, would rely on seniors to assume various leadership positions in the unit.

“Here we don’t have that, and we have to artificially give them that environment,” she said.

The Navy’s 11-student ROTC unit consists of only Elis, while the Air Force has created a consortium with nearby schools — including the University of New Haven, Quinnipiac, Southern Connecticut State and Western Connecticut State — which brings the unit’s total to 43 cadets.

Crabbe and Manning said recruiting for their initial class met expectations, adding that they believe the units will grow over time. Crabbe said she expects the Navy to recruit at least 11 midshipmen per year in the future, and Manning said he hopes to see the Air Force unit “explode” with 50 Yale cadets and 100 outside cadets.

“Just the intellectual capability that Yale brings to those who wear the uniform, and even the cross-towns who will take classes with professors like Paul Kennedy, you can not put a price tag on how that will influence the thinking and development of the U.S. Air Force as an institution,” Manning said.

Yale’s Navy and Air Force ROTC units were established in 1926 and 1946, respectively.


  • RexMottram08


  • The Anti-Yale

    I’m one of the cowardly people who went to graduate school rather than to Viet Nam. I always suspected the war was a lie, and that’s what it turned out to be.

    Iraq? Afghanistan?

    In forty years will folks say the same thing?

    Human beings —especially “fathers” —–seem intent on slaughtering their sons. I wrote on this at Yale in a paper for a New Testament tutorial.

    Where have all the flowers gone . . .

    Paul D. Keane

    M.Div. ‘80

    M.A., M.Ed.

    • RexMottram08

      Yes, you were and are a coward. I have no doubt there.

      • The Anti-Yale


        I have never raised a fist in my life.

        The only fights I engage in are intellectual.

        I think fisticuffs and war are bad for the health.


  • TijuasPerros

    As someone who attended this event, I immediately saw a huge problem with the photo that accompanied this article: it cuts out the two female cadets that were present and part of the class. If someone were to look strictly at this photo, they would be under the impression the entire NROTC class of ’16 is male. Though it may not be intentional, it certainly needs to be fixed.

    Josh Ray BK’13

  • River_Tam

    “The only good war was the one that happened a long time ago”, said everyone, ever.

  • newsjar

    How about following one of these new ROTC people from beginning to end of the program?

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