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Harvard welcomes US military back to campus

No US weapons cuts in short-term: Pentagon chief
Colorado Springs, Colorado (AFP) March 4, 2011 - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday he expects no major cuts to weapons programs in the next two years but that fiscal pressures could require sacrifices. "I don't see any other major programs on the block for the next year or two but we'll just have to see how serious the budget situation is," Gates told cadets at the US Air Force academy in Colorado Springs. Gates, answering a question about defense budget prospects, said he had proposed in 2009 canceling or curtailing 33 weapons programs and Congress approved 32 of his recommendations. The House of Representatives recently voted to back Gates' remaining request to cut an alternative engine for the F-35 aircraft, which he had called unnecessary and extravagant.

But Gates warned there would be hard decisions ahead as budget pressures mount. "I think we've done a good job in imposing some discipline internally," he said. "I think we'll have to make some very difficult choices, probably toward the latter part of this decade." The US Navy will face a dilemma in future years as it will need to find funds to replace aging warships that date back to the 1980s and to build costly new submarines, Gates added. The Air Force will likely grapple with a similar problem in trying to secure money for new refueling tankers, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a planned long-range bomber.
by Staff Writers
Boston, Massachusetts (AFP) March 4, 2011
Harvard welcomed back a US military officer training program Friday that was booted off campus more than 40 years ago during the anti-war ferment at the height of the Vietnam War.

Harvard President Drew Faust and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed an agreement clearing the way for the reestablishment of a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program on the campus of America's oldest and most prestigious university.

The agreement will fully restore the relationship when the repeal of a ban on gays openly serving in the military, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," goes into effect later this year.

White House press secretary Jay Carney called it "an important step in moving past the old divisions that often kept many Americans from seeing what we share with one another, including love of country and a profound respect for our brave men and women in uniform."

He added: "With our nation at war, this sends a powerful message that Americans stand united and that our colleges, society and armed forces are stronger when we honor the contributions of all our citizens."

Faust said the renewed relationship "affirms the vital role that the members of our armed forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals."

"It recognizes military service as an honorable and admirable calling, a powerful expression of an individual citizen's commitment to contribute to the common good," she said in her prepared speech, posted on Harvard's website.

Mabus called ROTC's return "good for the university, good for the military, and good for the country."

The ROTC program was kicked off the Ivy League campus in 1969 amid protests over the war in Vietnam.

Small numbers of Harvard students continued in ROTC but had to enroll in a program at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1995, Harvard withdrew funding for its share of the MIT program in response to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

But with the repeal, a number of elite universities have been reconsidering the ROTC programs, and allowing military recruitment on campus.

Yale has expressed strong interest in hosting a ROTC program, and debate over whether to open its doors has intensified at Columbia, scene of some of the biggest campus protests during the Vietnam War.

Faust said the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" underscored "the importance that all of us place on opportunity and inclusion -- on opening pathways for students to pursue their ambitions, to cultivate their capacity for leadership, to lead lives of value to others."

Faust disputed suggestions that hostility to the military still runs high among students. She told CNN that Harvard has an important role in "making sure that the individuals who are making decisions about war have been exposed to the widest range of education."

The agreement was signed in an afternoon ceremony, said Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin.

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