The Scandal Wasn’t the Behavior of West Point Cadets or Annapolis Midshipmen

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2019 file photo, Navy midshipmen march onto field ahead of an NCAA college football game between the Army and the Navy in Philadelphia. A military investigation finds that hand gestures used by cadets and midshipmen during the Army-Navy game broadcast had nothing to do with white supremacy. The investigation, which included interviews and background checks, determined that two freshmen were taking part in a “sophomoric” game that had “no racist intent.” (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 14, 2019 file photo, Navy midshipmen march onto field ahead of an NCAA college football game between the Army and the Navy in Philadelphia. A military investigation finds that hand gestures used by cadets and midshipmen during the Army-Navy game broadcast had nothing to do with white supremacy. The investigation, which included interviews and background checks, determined that two freshmen were taking part in a “sophomoric” game that had “no racist intent.” (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Who would have thought that activities during the Army-Navy Game—America’s Football Game would have ended up involving the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the FBI’s Counter Terrorism Branch, not to mention the Academy’s own internal AR 15-6 Investigation?** Why, pray tell, all of this investigative horsepower? Was there a threat to the President (who was at the game and per tradition, watched from one side (Army) before watching from the other (Navy) during the second half)? Nope. Murder? No.

Did the Naval Academy finally bring charges against Army Cadets who on a routine basis, manage to kidnap the Navy mascot (a butt ugly, smelly goat)? Again, no. What started all of this, was an innocent game called “the circle game.” A few leftist reporters decided that they would without one shred of evidence, gin up a social media lynching of the Cadets involved. This in turn resulted in a full (over) blown response and official investigation.

I won’t go into all the details, as they have been well and properly covered by my colleagues Nick Arama and Jennifer Van Laar.

Read: Army, Navy Investigation Absolves Cadets and Midshipmen of Flashing ‘White Power’ Symbols

Read: After the ‘Circle Game’ Saga, Dan Rodricks, Here’s a Question You Need to Ask Yourself

Read: The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Respond After Being Proven Incorrect About Cadets/Midshipmen Using ‘White Power’ Symbol

My focus will be on the Military Leadership, specifically at West Point. Before I get into the meat, let me say right up front, everyone I’ve spoken to, corresponded with or read writings from, have nothing but the highest praise for the current Superintendent, Lieutenant General Darryl A. Williams. By all accounts, he is well liked and respected by the Corps of Cadets. That notwithstanding, I am deeply disappointed by the approach taken by both academies and the involvement of the FBI in “investigating” this non-issue.

The West Point Twitter feed announced the results. Pay close attention to the bold words.

So far so good. But then there is this.

“We must take allegations such as these seriously.” Really? Why? Why do we need to take obviously stupid and unfounded accusations, “seriously?” Why do we need to tie up scarce resources and put Cadets through unneeded stress just because some leftists are attempting to stir up trouble over an innocuous game?

“We are disappointed…” Why? What did they do wrong? “immature?” Does that also apply to all the pre-game hijinks practiced by all of the Academies and by Active Duty troops serving throughout the World?

“…administrative and/or disciplinary actions…?” Why? Again, what did they do that would imply a need for such?

Really? What a crock! This is the Army-Navy game. Cadets and Midshipmen do all kinds of things in the run-up to the game that are not considered, “professional.” It’s all part of the experience.

It’s hard to forge character in junior officers, when their leaders fail to demonstrate such by throwing them under the bus merely to get rid of a perceived Public Relations problem. Perhaps the Academy Leadership, instead of pole vaulting over mouse turds by “taking all such accusations seriously,” should get back to the business of growing Combat Leaders who don’t wear Che t-shirts under their Full Dress Uniforms. The proper response to these allegations should have been a succinct statement from the Supe, directed at the media saying simply, “Get Real. We aren’t going to waste time on this silly nonsense.”

** Army Regulation 15-6 (AR 15-6) is the regulation and procedure for conducting official investigations. I is often the starting point in criminal investigations.

Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

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