Army notifies ASU it will keep its ROTC program additional year

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman and Congressman Rick Crawford announced Wednesday afternoon the United States Army agreed to allow Arkansas State University's ROTC program to stay open an additional year to allow them to improve officer production rates.

This decision is a reversal of the Army's previous decision to close the program. The Army announced in October that the Red Wolf Battalion would be discontinued at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

ASU Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson informed cadets of the announcement after speaking with legislators Wednesday.

ROTC students said they are relieved and grateful for the reversal.

"I'm so glad to be pursuing the officership. The things we do around the program help make my days go by a lot faster. I know my first semester here everything just kind of dragged on, and now that I'm with the program it's like I've got a reason to be here," said sophomore Howard Bobo. "It was just a huge burden off my shoulders because it's no longer about having to worry about where I'm going to go next year."

"They've produced a lot great leaders that have come out of here. We have a hall of heroes and to look back and see the caliber of officers that have come through is a high standard," said ASU junior Gennifer DuBois.

Last week U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor said he would hold up a Department of Defense nominee until the university received answers about the Army's decision to close the school's ROTC program.

"Thanks to numerous phone calls, community support, and an Administration hold, we were able to keep A-State ROTC's doors open for another year. Now, we have the opportunity to prove our case and show the Army why this program is invaluable to our state and nation," Pryor said in a statement.

Pryor said he worked with Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Rick Crawford to seek justification from Army officials about the closing.

Rep. Crawford said, "the initial action was conducted without proper input from local leaders, lacking opportunity for congressional oversight, and most importantly without a clear rationale."

ASU will have one year to re-evaluate the program criteria and meet Army standards, according to legislators. Chancellor Hudson said ASU administrators will receive details in the coming week about the criteria.

"It took a team effort to show the Army why the Red Wolf Battalion deserves the chance to grow its mission at Arkansas State," said Chancellor Hudson. "We appreciate the Army being willing to reconsider this decision and we will prove to the Army that they made the right decision."

The ROTC program has been in place at ASU for 77 years.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All rights reserved.