The United States (U.S.) government created the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in 1916 during a military restructuring that increased their reserve military forces. Its purpose was to prepare men for military service and to create citizen leaders for the reserve forces.

Today, the U.S. Air Force currently runs two distinct programs. The Junior ROTC program is run at high schools with the mission to develop citizens of character. The Senior ROTC program is run at colleges with the mission to develop officers. Instructors for the junior program are retired military members selected and employed by their high schools. Instructors for the senior program are active duty military officers, selected by the Air Force and approved by their colleges. The curricula are both centrally developed and nationally accredited. The junior program consists of four 1-year courses that teach leadership, culture, Air Force history, wellness, and life skills. Junior ROTC students can complete part or all of the curriculum. The senior program consists of four 1-year courses that introduce students to the Air Force and its history, teach leadership fundamentals as well as national and regional security concepts. Students must also enroll in a leadership laboratory and complete a summer military training program in order to commission as an officer. Senior ROTC students must complete the whole program.

These national training programs make better citizens for the US nation and allow a diverse population to be represented in the Air Force.