The rot is deep in the United States Army. It’s even deeper in one of its major support structures, The United States Military Academy at West Point. In Part I of this series, I laid the historical groundwork showing how leftist infiltration of the military over decades, has resulted in a weakened military bereft of morale and international prestige following the Vietnam conflict. One major line of effort by the left in infiltrating and weakening our Military, was through the service academies, severally.
In the concluding paragraphs of Part I, I noted that my Alma Mater was once again embroiled in a cheating scandal. And once again, the actual cheating isn’t the most egregious part of the incident. We’ve all heard the old political saw, It’s not the crime; It’s the cover-up. While the latest scandal isn’t quite the same, its fairly close; It’s not the cheating; It’s the minimization of moral accountability by those in charge. At the conclusion of Part I, I promised a discussion of Academy reaction to the incident along with an apparently self serving letter by Academy Superintendent, LTG Darryl Williams along with what kind of thought process it appears to indicate in our senior military leadership.
The minimization of this particular instance of moral accountability began this past October, with an official memorandum from the LTG Williams to the West Point Staff. As reported by the New York Post:
Under academy policy, cadets found guilty of cheating would not have been allowed to play on sports teams after Nov 30, the date they were found in violation of the code.
But in an Oct. 23 memo, Williams wrote that the policy “resulted in an inequitable application of consequences and developmental opportunities” for some cadets.
inequitable application of consequences and developmental opportunities?! Good grief!!
Are we attempting to develop leaders in which; The President of the United States has reposed special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities, or are we following the same path of the Boy Scouts and other venerable institutions by not only allowing, but outright encouraging moral decay?
LTG Williams, obviously responding to press reports and outrage from the military community, including many graduates from not only West Point, but all the other service academies, published a letter on December 30th, attempting to justify his actions. His letter was a study in contradictions, on one hand appearing to accept full responsibility, while on the other, blaming the Wuhan, China Virus for an apparent inability to properly supervise troops.
As the Superintendent, I own this cheating incident. Furthermore, I and every leader at West Point own their role in developing leaders of character.
But, further down:
The global pandemic disrupted our developmental process. In an instant, our tried and tested leadership model was interrupted and for a short time the Corps was dispersed to 4400 locations around the world. In this environment our Cadets were void of those critical developmental engagements in the barracks, in the classrooms, and on the athletic fields that help them understand themselves and increase their commitment to the West Point and Army values. Our plebes are the most vulnerable to the effects of losing the inspiration and accountability of an in person cohesive team.
The “global pandemic?” What a crock! The global pandemic didn’t cause these cadets to cheat. Poor ethical grounding caused it while poor leadership and decision making enabled it.
First of all, there was absolutely no need whatsoever to keep the Corps of Cadets, arguably one of the most, if not THE most healthy college cohorts, away from the academy and out of the classroom. That in and of itself, was a weak decision that sends the signal to our enemies that our Armed Forces can be brought to their knees by a disease with a 0.14% fatality rate among those who contract it…much less for those the same age and health status of aspiring military officers.
Then there is this:
As many of you know, over time the Honor System has changed from an attritional model to a developmental model. Since the publication of the findings of the Borman Commission in 1976, Superintendents have used discretion regarding separation for an Honor violation.
I’m all about developing folks and offering second chances where warranted, but, this is about character and character development. In any such effort, there is a baseline…a floor that is a minimum start point and that we expect candidates in world class institutions to remain well above. A widespread cheating operation that required deliberate conspiracy and coordination, isn’t some minor error in judgement or minor slip up that is easily fixed.
Then there is the Army Football Program itself. I am as rabid an Army Football fan as they get. I watched this year’s Army Navy game with a friend who is a USNA graduate, retired Navy Commander, and now flies big iron for Delta Airlines. I have to tell you that although Army won, both of us were absolutely disgusted with the conduct of the players. Late hits, shoving matches after the whistle and just short of an all out brawl immediately following the game. This was the first Army Navy game in over a decade that I did NOT hear the announcers/commenters remark about how few penalties there were compared to a standard college football match…Not. Once.
It’s tough producing a winning Academy Football Team. Military height & weight restrictions along with a 5 year, post graduate service commitment, deter many a promising recruit. Got it. But everyone needs to recognize that producing Commissioned Officers…officers with character, is Job 1.
The other thing we all have to realize, especially the players, Service Academies being allowed to compete in college sport competitions, is a privilege. First of all, all Cadets are technically on “full scholarship.” Moreover, all Cadets are actually “professionals,” as they get paid a salary while at the Academies, 1/2 the base pay of an O-1, the lowest commissioned pay grade. the Academies are being given a privilege by even being allowed to compete with college amateurs.
I want Army to beat Navy and Air Force while having winning seasons. But I don’t want that if the price is producing Commissioned Officers who cannot be trusted at the other end of a radio to tell the truth about their operational situation; not cheat on a take home test; or who need to show their collective *** during a publicly broadcast sporting event. It’s all part and parcel, and LTG Williams is right. He does own it; He along with the rest of the Military establishment that has allowed this to fester.
Next up, Part III, where we will discuss reaction to this incident by graduates of all the Service Academies, and a possible way forward. Stay tuned.