U.S. Army delays ROTC closure

USM sophomore and Army ROTC cadet Dylan Paul performs a squad mission during an STX lane Saturday, March 2 at Camp Shelby.  Jamie Gominger/Printz Archives
USM sophomore and Army ROTC cadet Dylan Paul performs a squad mission during an STX lane Saturday, March 2 at Camp Shelby.
Jamie Gominger/Printz Archives

The Department of the Army has decided to delay the closure of the USM Army ROTC program for a minimum of two years.

According to The Sun Herald, Mississippi elected officials were told Wednesday of the Army’s decision to place the program on a probationary status during this time. University officials are expecting to receive formal notice from the Army soon.

“Two years will give the Army plenty of time to more carefully consider the successful history of the Southern Miss program,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in a news release Wednesday.

University officials said since program began in 1951, nearly 1,555 students have graduated. Lt. Col. Joseph Worley said 12 cadets are set to be commissioned in December 2013 and five are scheduled to be commissioned in May 2014.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate what The University of Southern Mississippi already knows—that this is a successful program that has benefited not only Mississippi but the entire country for more than six decades,” said USM President Rodney Bennett. “Our current cadets are bright, engaged and patriotic citizens, and the program has a long history of producing military leaders for our country including 16 General Officers.”

The Army made an announcement in October regarding its decision to close USM’s Army ROTC program, along with 12 other programs in the country. University and state officials immediately began preparing an appeal for the program to remain open.