Uncommon Knowledge: James Mattis on the Virtues of ROTC


In the most recent episode of Uncommon Knowledge, I had the pleasure of sitting down with James Mattis — retired U.S. Marine Corps General, former Commander of U.S. Central Command, and now Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution — for a wide-ranging conversation about the military and national security. In this first clip from that conversation, I ask him how one makes the case for ROTC to young people today. His answer below:

There are 5 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. DocJay Inactive

    ROTC made my son a man. I’m not sure how things would have turned out without it.

    • #1
  2. Giantkiller Member

    Yeah.  Well.  Speaking as someone who experienced Jim Mattis’ leadership up close, I think I will pass.

    • #2
  3. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy

    I have five words of advice, if my son asks: Navy ROTC, Marine Corps Option.

    • #3
  4. VooDoo Inactive

    My oldest is in AIr Force ROTC at the University of Washington, Seattle. She absolutely loves it. I expect my youngest will also be in ROTC when he goes off to college. I guess they are following in my footsteps. Dad couldn’t be more proud.

    • #4
  5. Dave Member


    “Yeah.  Well.  Speaking as someone who experienced Jim Mattis’ leadership up close, I think I will pass.”

    I never had the opportunity to serve with General Mattis, however, I was a company grade officer in the 24th Infantry Division when it was commanded by the then Major General Norman Schwarzkopf. The nick names “Stormin Norman” and “The Bear,” were apt. General Schwarzkopf’s leadership style was not one I would want to, or be able to emulate, however, it was effective.

    Back to the main point, I had prior military service enlisted and went through the two year ROTC program. I agree with the General that there comes a time when we want to know that what we did in life mattered, that we made a difference. Serving enlisted or commissioned in the U.S. military is one way you will always be assured that you did make a difference.

    Military service is not for everyone, but it does not mean those that do not serve are less worthy, after all I could never be a doctor, or a presidential speech writer. Thinking back on years of military service brings back a lot of memories some good, some not so good. I would tell anyone considering military service that it will test you physically, mentally and emotionally. It is not something that you enter into lightly. You are given a lot of responsibility, sometimes for the very lives of those who serve under you. At the end of the day, if I could turn back time and be a 21 year old once more, I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

    • #5

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.