Carter on ‘Force of the Future’ & Nation’s ROTC Programs (Video Speech)

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the latest links in the “Force of the Future” initiative, laying out specific steps to expand the military’s geographic, demographic and generational reach in recruiting and to strengthen the nation’s ROTC programs during a visit to City College of New York’s Manhattan campus.

The goal: build on the military’s status as one of the nation’s most popular and respected institutions to enhance the future force’s access to Americans from all regions of the nation and all walks of life.

(As part of his Force of the Future initiative, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced new efforts to expand military recruiting and to reinvigorate the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, program on college campuses to attract a broader segment of young people into military and public service in a speech at The City College of New York, Nov. 1, 2016. Courtesy of the DOD and YouTube)

“If we’re going to ensure we keep recruiting top talent, we have to help our fellow citizens get to know today’s military, even if they don’t have a parent, a neighbor or a coach who served,” Secretary Carter said.

“We’re going to start by improving how we communicate the value of military life — telling our story in more places, more ways, and to a broader range of audiences across the country — making real who we are and what we do.”

Speaking to an audience that included ROTC students from the CCNY campus, Carter outlined the enhanced outreach and ROTC efforts as the fifth and sixth links of the “Force of the Future,” a series of initiatives designed to ensure that the U.S. military maintains its ability to attract and retain the people it needs to remain the world’s premier fighting force.


Previous links involved changes to allow greater exchanges between the military, private sector and academia; to better support military families; to build a more flexible military officer promotion system; and to better attract top civilian talent.

Links five and six address a new challenge: the fact that the military draws disproportionately from some areas of the country and some segments of society.

For example, 40 percent of those who join the military come from just six states, and Americans who have a parent or close relative who served are nearly twice as likely to join the military as those who don’t.

“We want people to consider military and public service because they will be better off for taking part in this incredible mission,” Secretary Carter said.

“We’re going to help more Americans be open to helping us in that mission.”

The fifth link, enhancing the department’s geographic and demographic reach, includes:

  • Using the Joint Advertising Marketing Research and Studies program, or JAMRS, to develop a new DoD-wide marketing campaign on the value of military service, build recognition of the DoD brand, and grow propensity to serve. The campaign will be developed in 2017 for planned launch in 2018.
  • Strengthening outreach efforts to better communicate the value of military service to potential service members and their parents, teachers and coaches. Speakers bureau launches with Tuesday’s speech from Secretary Carter.
  • Immediately building a menu of recruiting program options for the services, including steps to reach young talent with unique skills and interests.
  • Polling military recruiters to identify barriers limiting access to high school students. Survey results will be available in January of 2017.
  • Expanding partnerships with community groups.
  • Analyzing and applying lessons from service-led efforts to target specific demographic groups (such as Army outreach to African-Americans and Marine Corps outreach to Hispanics) and geographic locations (such as Air Force recruiting drives in the Northeast and Navy efforts in the Mid-South).

(Dreaming? Go for it. The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or CUNY ROTC, offers courses and benefits, including tuition assistance. Courtesy of City College of New York and YouTube)

The sixth link aims to invigorate ROTC programs, which provide about 40 percent of military officers, through efforts such as:

  • Working with top tier universities on implementing legislation designed to improve ROTC student access to financial aid.
  • Piloting more flexible scholarship payments and stipends.
  • Offering more graduate school scholarships.
  • Rewarding ROTC cadets for tackling more rigorous academic courses.
  • Expanding outreach to potential female and minority cadets in science, math and technology fields.
  • Ensuring promotion and selection boards value ROTC assignments and affiliations.
  • Regularly reviewing ROTC training manuals and curricula.
  • Offering internships or summer training tailored to ROTC students in some majors.
  • Developing tools to better assess effectiveness of ROTC programs.
  • Piloting a multi-service ROTC unit model.
  • Identifying successful units in underserved areas for lessons in expanding ROTC’s geographic and demographic reach.

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For more information, click here to read the Secretary’s memo, and click here to read the fact sheet.