Academic journal article Military Review

ARMY 101: Inside ROTC in a Time of War

Academic journal article Military Review

ARMY 101: Inside ROTC in a Time of War

Article excerpt

ARMY 101: Inside ROTC in a Time of War, David Axe, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 2007, 111 pages, $24.95.

Recently, a Medal of Honor recipient whose acquaintance I made reminded me that, 40 years ago, the American public could not separate people in uniform from the decisions made by their civilian elected leader, and as a result they made Soldiers in uniform a target. Many who made that error are now ashamed of it. Reading Army 101: Inside ROTC in a Time of War reminded me of that error.

In Army 101, author David Axe describes the experiences of several cadets enrolled in the Army ROTC program at the University of South Carolina. Axe hinges his narrative on events before and after 9/11 and organizes his book in two distinct sections of eight short chapters, implying both national and local shifts in attitude about the War on Terror and its effect on those wearing the nation's uniform. The opening vignette describes ROTC cadets waiting in ambush during a training exercise. Axe perfectly captures that moment by focusing on the experiences of the cadet squad leader in charge.

Unfortunately, the book struggles after that first success. The next-tolast chapter takes the reader to Iraq for five pages to describe the experiences of a few officers who were commissioned via ROTC. The connection appears to be that the officers are from South Carolina and either served in the South Carolina National Guard or were commissioned from an ROTC program in South Carolina. But none of them were part of the ROTC program at South Carolina during the time span of this book. The chapter mainly serves as a platform to condemn, for the last of many times, American intervention in Iraq. (I should also note that the chapter has another possible raison d'etre: it features a picture of Axe in a helicopter riding into Iraq.)

Axe's limited omniscient point of view veers off in a prose style that depends largely on polarizing hyperbole to hold the reader's attention. More damaging, it divorces the narrator from the limits of fact or reasonable logic. …

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