The Army must invest in STEM education and interactive learning for its JROTC programs to ensure the next generation of recruits have the knowledge and skills to succeed, Brig. Gen. John Evans said at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
The AUSA show floor was full of vendors marketing the future of military equipment and software. Evans, however, focused on the future of recruiting and how the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, aimed at high schoolers, should adapt to global changes.
"We have had far superior weapons systems to the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians or the North Koreans," he said. "But that gap is rapidly closing. So what separates us from them? The answer is people."
Evans said partners like Vex Robotics have become more involved in the JROTC curriculum over the years. The Vex program is designed to teach students about advanced robotics, and includes competitions at the local regional and occasionally the national level.
He also said the Army needs to recruit more people from different backgrounds.
"We have to be able to expand beyond military families and relatives," Evans said. "We need people who can bring their rich experiences and backgrounds to the table."
One audience member told a story during the session about his experience in JROTC. While he did not end up enlisting in the armed services, he said he now has a job developing apps for the Army. And he said his brother, who was also in the program, is now an AH-64 Apache pilot.
"That's what we mean when we talk about recruitment," Evans told the audience. "Not everyone in JROTC is going to be in the Army. But if we can instill our values and how important it is to serve, then we will always win."