Indiana University Bloomington

Unit History & Awards

Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) at Indiana University is a world-class leadership development program that offers challenging, hands-on training to build confidence and character while developing leadership skills for future success. Students can participate in IU Army ROTC obligation-free for the first two years. Those who decide to make a commitment are further groomed for military service as an Army Officer, receiving a Second Lieutenant’s commission upon graduation. Qualified students willing to make the commitment are eligible for scholarships and other monies to help pay for college.

A Tradition of Excellence

  • IU Army ROTC was 4th in the nation (out of 272 host programs) last summer at the US Army Cadet Command’s Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).
  • U Army ROTC’s Ranger Challenge and Pershing Rifles teams are perennial winners. In fact, we have been number 1 at Ranger Challenge for the past two years and in the top three for the past five years.
  • IU Army ROTC’s Pershing Rifles company is the second oldest in the nation and we were the 2nd best in the nation in 2004 and 2005.
  • U Army ROTC i one of four universities in the nation to host the Army’s new Strategic Languages Program.
  • IU Army ROTC i the 5th oldest Army ROTC program in the nation.
  • Our university was one of the first ten universities to admit women in Army ROTC in 1972. We have made our commission mission for 5 years running, overproducing the past three years.
  • IU Army ROTC received the 2007 Order of Founders and Patriots of America, (OFPA), Award for Outstanding Army ROTC Unit, designating the IU Army ROTC Battalion as the top ROTC program in the Nation.

Our History – 1840 to Present

Jacob Ammen

The history of military training at Indiana University is almost as old as the University itself with the first military instruction initiated on campus in 1840. Jacob Ammen, a West Point graduate who would later become a general in the U.S. Army, served as the first instructor. In 1843 Ammen resigned to re enter the service and the military training program went into a hiatus; it was reinstituted in 1861 during the Civil War as a voluntary course to be conducted by members of the faculty. After 1861 there is no record of military instruction during the rest of the Civil War years.

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1860-1870

Major General Eli Long

Military instruction returned to I.U. in 1868, with the appointment of Major General Eli Long by U.S. President, Andrew Johnson. Long served as Professor of Military Science and Tactics (PMST) at Indiana University for approximately two years. In 1870 Colonel James Thompson, a former West Point instructor, came to I.U. to take charge of military training. Over the next few years interest waned in military training, and the program was abolished for the third time in 1874.

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World War I

WW1 Recruiting Poster

With the outbreak of World War I, the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program was established nationally as part of the Hay Chamberlain National Defense Act of 1916. By June of that year University administration began plans to organize a new corps on campus, the first in forty-two years. On 17 April 1917 the United States War Department approved the university’s application for a corps, marking the fourth incarnation of a military training program at I.U.

The new Department of Military Science and Tactics was established in 1917 as part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but it became an independent entity during World War II, in 1942. The Defense Act allowed for the university to choose whether the basic program was elective or compulsory; administrators chose to make ROTC a prerequisite for graduation for all able-bodied males, and required the course work be completed in the students first two years of study. ROTC remained a mandatory course for incoming male students until 1964.

Department of Military Science & Tactics

Because so few officers were available during World War I, the Department of Military Science and Tactics assigned Kenneth P. (K.P.) Williams, then a member of the Mathematics Department and a First Lieutenant in the Indiana National Guard, as the first officer to organize the cadets. This earned Williams the distinction of being the “founder of the ROTC” at Indiana University. During Williams’ tenure the War Department temporarily changed the ROTC title to SATC (Students’ Army Training Corps) in 1918, but changed it back to ROTC in January 1919.

During 1918 two divisions were created within the ROTC corps, Collegiate and Vocational. The Collegiate Division, with 900 students, provided a student with $30.00 a month from the government and tuition funding similar to the present- day ROTC. This division consisted of 5 specialty areas: Infantry and Artillery; Air Service; Ordnance and Quartermaster; Engineer, Signal and Chemical Warfare Service; and Motor Transport and Truck Service. The Vocational Division, or “radio detachment”, enrolled 282 students and offered technical training.

Post WWI

The post-WWI years brought some opposition to the ROTC program at I.U. A debate over the necessity of a compulsory ROTC program ensued in 1926. When put to a vote by students, the majority opposed the compulsory status of ROTC. However, because only 25% of the student body actually voted, the University Board decided the evidence was inconclusive, and no action was taken.

Throughout the rest of the 1920′s, ROTC at I.U. continued to expand and increase its programs and offerings. In 1928 the I.U. ROTC formed their own company of the Pershing Rifles, a drill team for honor students, with 75 participants. From the 1920′s to the beginning of World War II in 1941, ROTC continued to flourish, and the Department of Military Science and Tactics struggled to find space to accommodate the growing number of students enrolled. This growth was due in large part to the course being compulsory for all incoming university male students.

World War II

IU Army ROTC WWII

World War II brought a period of growth and change for the Department of Military Science and Tactics. In 1941 Colonel Raymond L. Shoemaker took over as Professor of Military Science and Tactics (PMST). He would later serve as Dean of Students at I.U. from 1946 to 1956. During Shoemaker’s tenure as head of ROTC, many new units and programs were established to enhance military training at I.U. In 1942, the Quartermaster unit was formed to supplement the Infantry and Medical units. The Medical Administrative Corps was also organized to provide a future source of qualified medical officers to the armed forces and to prevent medical students from being drafted and depleting the number of qualified doctors on the home front.

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACS)

WAAC Poster

The creation of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACS) in the summer of 1942 heralded new times for the military and for ROTC at I.U. President Herman B Wells suggested an elective course on military training for women known as the Women’s Auxiliary Training Corps (WATC), whose mission would be to prepare women to work for the war effort after graduation, particularly in the public services sector of the armed forces. The first of its kind, WATC had no official connection with the Army, but it replaced the physical education requirement for women at I.U. The program was discontinued after 1943 because the Department of Military Science and Tactics could not support it with the necessary faculty, staff and leadership.

During World War II, 9,200 I.U. alumni served their country. In the post-war era ROTC split into separate Army and Air Force units in 1951. In addition, the department changed its name to Military and Air Science Tactics.

The 1960s

The 1960′s brought even more changes for military instruction at I.U. The ROTC department shortened its name in 1960 to Military and Air Science. In 1962, the Crimson Cadettes, a women’s drill team, was organized by a group of female students interested in military drill work. Originally sponsored by the Union Board, this group later became part of the ROTC, and was actively involved in competitions and events with the Pershing Rifles, the male drill team, paving the way for female participation in this military organization.

In December 1964, due to pressure from the Student Senate, anti-ROTC protestors, and others who argued against a compulsory course, I.U. administrators decided that for the first time in almost 50 years ROTC should be optional. This lead to a drop in enrollment in ROTC by 60%, but the program remained at the university thanks in part to President Herman B Wells and university administrators who decided that I.U. needed to offer a choice to Indiana college students who wanted to enroll in ROTC.

The 1970s

The 1970′s marked an era of groundbreaking moments for ROTC. In 1972 I.U. became one of the first ten universities to accept women as cadets in ROTC. In the same year the department shortened its name to the Department of Military Sciences. One year later in 1973 the Air Force ROTC program became the Department of Aerospace Studies, and in 1975 the Army ROTC took on its current title, the Department of Military Science.

Present Day

IU Army ROTC

Today involvement in the Department of Military Science, or Army ROTC, is voluntary for any I.U. student during their first two years of enrollment. Once students begin taking advanced courses as a junior, they are considered contracted cadets in the Army ROTC and upon graduation, or commission, cadets are obligated to serve in the Army for at least four years, in either active or reserve duty. Besides academics, Army ROTC cadets enjoy extra-curricular events sponsored by organizations such as the Pershing Rifles, Ranger Club, and Recondo Club. Hundreds of students participate annually in Army ROTC courses and programs every year.