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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Russia big loser in Arab arms market slump
Cairo (UPI) Mar 4, 2011
Russia's arms industry looks to be the big loser from U.N. sanctions imposed on Moammar Gadhafi's Libyan regime as it fights its own people for survival. Russia's state-run arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, will lose $4 billion in prospective contracts for fighter jets and tanks because of the United Nations' actions, said Sergei Chemezov, head of the state industrial holding Russian Tech ... read more
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