Transforming Army ROTC
A conversation between Major General Jefforey A. Smith and General Jack Keane (ret.)
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Event Summary

How is the US Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) responding to the unique challenges of a country drawing down its largest military engagement since the Vietnam War? On Tuesday, General Jack Keane sat down with Major General Jefforey A. Smith at AEI to discuss the reforms the cadet commander is making to create a more representative and better-prepared officer training program.

Maj. Gen. Smith, who came to his post in 2012, explained the progress he has made to increase curriculum rigor, improve the efficacy of essential training, enhance the required Leader Development and Assessment Course, and deepen cadets' experience with foreign cultures. He also stressed the importance of fostering a geographically, academically, and demographically diverse officer corps, pointing to his pilot programs in Illinois, southern Florida, and New Mexico as examples of his efforts to correct existing imbalances.

Gen. Keane, an alumnus of the ROTC program, remarked that Maj. Gen. Smith has so far been transformational in his role and praised Maj. Gen. Smith’s efforts to make ROTC available to students in previously underserved regions. In particular, he heralded the return of ROTC to the City University of New York last year after a 40-year absence.
--Mark Bennett

Event Description

Today, the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) has more than 30,000 cadets enrolled nationwide and some 275 universities hosting full ROTC programs. And with the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ROTC has been welcomed back on campuses where it once had vibrant programs.
However, as Major General Jefforey A. Smith noted upon taking up his command, the ROTC “program that we have in place today is exactly the same program that I went through between 1980 and 1983 at Ohio State University.” And changing demographics will require the Army to better maximize its limited resources to effectively train cadets and to produce an officer corps that reflects America’s geographic and social diversity.
To discuss how best to move Army ROTC into the future, Major General Smith will sit down for a conversation with General Jack Keane, an ROTC graduate and former Army vice chief of staff.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


9:45 AM

10:00 AM
Gary J. Schmitt, AEI

General Jack Keane, US Army (ret.)
Major General Jefforey A. Smith, US Army

11:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Mark Bennett at [email protected], 202.862.7184.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

General Jack Keane is a retired four-star general and former acting chief of staff and vice chief of staff of the US Army. He is currently president of the consulting firm GSI LLC, serves as chairman of the board for the Institute for the Study of War and the Knollwood Foundation, and is a director of MetLife and General Dynamics. He is also a member of the board of directors for the George C. Marshall Foundation, the Center for Strategy and Budget Assessment, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Smith Richardson Foundation. Additionally, Keane is an adviser to Welcome Back Veterans and American Corporate Partners, and a trustee at Fordham University. A former member of the Defense Policy Board, he serves as a national security analyst for Fox News and speaks throughout the country on national security and leadership. He has provided oversight and support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and played a key role in formulating and recommending the surge strategy in Iraq. Keane is a career infantry paratrooper and a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, who spent much of his military life in operational commands that served in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo. He commanded the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the 18th Airborne Corps.

Gary J. Schmitt is codirector of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI and the director of AEI's Program on American Citizenship. Schmitt is a former staff director of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He was executive director of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board during former president Ronald Reagan's second term. Schmitt's security work focuses on longer-term strategic issues that will affect America's security at home and its ability to lead abroad, while his work in the area of citizenship focuses on challenges to maintaining and sustaining a strong civic culture in America. His books include “Safety, Liberty and Islamist Terrorism: American and European Approaches to Domestic Counterterrorism” (AEI Press, 2010), “The Rise of China: Essays on the Future Competition” (Encounter Books, 2009), “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (AEI Press, 2007), “Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence” (Potomac Books Inc, 2002), and “U.S. Intelligence at the Crossroads: Agendas for Reform” (Brassey’s Inc, 1995).

Major General Jefforey A. Smith is the commanding general of US Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox. From 2011 to 2012, he served as the director of Army Accessions Command Discontinuance Task Force at Fort Knox. From 2010 to 2011, he served as the assistant commanding general for police development in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Training Mission–Afghanistan and for the Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan. He previously served as deputy director for political-military affairs for the Middle East in the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate on the joint staff in the US Department of Defense. He also served as deputy commanding general for the 10th Mountain Division and Multinational Division–South during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq from 2009 to 2010, and as chief of staff for the 10th Mountain Division from 2007 to 2009. From 2005 to 2007, he was the executive officer to the commander of the United States Central Command after leading a brigade combat team in Iraq. He has also served in military operations in Kosovo and during the First Gulf War. In 1983, he was commissioned second lieutenant of infantry through Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Ohio State University.

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