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Military contract not ambiguous

Letter to the Editor | Friday, March 31, 2006

In response to Jonathan E. O’Reilly’s letter (U.S. Army doesn’t honor ROTC contract, March 28), O’Reilly has failed to mention anything regarding the verbal oath every officer takes upon accepting a Commission, which concludes “I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.” Unlike enlisted personnel, commissioned officers take an oath to serve “freely and without mental reservation” at the behest of the Commander-in-Chief, and are therefore granted the unique responsibilities and obligations of this esteemed office. One of the obligations is to serve as long as one’s services are deemed necessary, not by the individual, but by the organization. When an officer resigns his or her commission, it is a request to resign, a request which may be turned down.

I am not questioning O’Reilly’s dedication or faithful eight years of service to the Army, but as an officer he should know that the Army’s needs supercede his own needs or desires. This is made clear in any ROTC program or other commissioning contract. As a student who will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps this May, it has been made explicitly clear that I may be required to serve beyond the minimum (the exact word used in the contract) four years of my commitment, and that resignation is a request which could be denied. If this was not made clear to O’Reilly at the time of his commissioning, that was a failure of his ROTC staff, but I can attest to the fact that currently the ROTC staffs are stressing the possibility of being held beyond the minimum requirement.

O’Reilly alludes to this at the end of his letter where he wants this clause pointed out to him in his contract. As future officers and leaders of young men and women of the enlisted ranks, we are expected to be fully responsible for our actions, including reading and fully understanding what our office actually entails. It is not anyone else’s responsibility to make sure the officer candidate understands his or her obligation to fulfill that office. Again, I am not arguing that O’Reilly does not have a legitimate claim to be released from his oath, but his letter shows gross ignorance toward the actual commitment officers are expected to make upon being granted the special trust and confidence of the Commander-in-Chief.

William Sullivansenioroff campusMarch 28