Union Generals McClellan, Burnside, Pope, and Rosecrans were relieved of command in the Civil War for failure to perform. In World War Two, at least 5 US Corps commanders and 16 Division commanders were fired. The US won both wars when its military found the best leaders to wage the wars. Incidentally, if anyone has forgotten, the new woke military is 0-1 in battle (Afghanistan/Kabul disaster).
The glorious recent history of cocaine, scandal and poor leadership at West Point:
2013 – Superintendent LTG David Huntoon retires prematurely amidst accusations of ethical misconduct.
2016 – Chris Monge is imprisoned for cocaine dealing as a West Point cadet, 5 others are investigated.
2017 – Superintendent LTG Robert Caslen lets known communist Spencer Rapone graduate.
2018 – Fort Drum officers do the right thing and eliminate Rapone from the Army.
2020 – (May) 72 West Point cadets caught cheating (worst honor code scandal since 1976).
2021 – (May) BG Mark Quander becomes West Point’s 79th Commandant.
2021 – (LTG) Robert Caslen is accused of plagiarism and resigns as President of U of South Carolina.
2022 – 5 West Point cadets purchase cocaine and overdose on cocaine and fentanyl on spring break.
2022 – Media reports cocaine culture existed at West Point since at least 2016, was not new to 2022.
2022 – Judicial Watch successfully sues West Point to release CRT curriculum being taught.
2023 – West Point refuses to fully answer FOIA requests for the outcome of 2022 cocaine scandal.
2023 – (today) Fox News reports yet more CRT/pronoun training going on at West Point.
2023 – (today) BG Mark Quander is still West Point’s commandant…
Underlined items occurred on BG Quander’s watch.
BG Mark Quander (West Point class of 1995), hails from a long line of Army officers and by all accounts had a successful career as an engineer officer in the Army. He had the misfortune of becoming Commandant when West Point was roiled in years of cocaine use and honor scandals. Clearly West Point had a command climate tolerating and/or enabling serious discipline issues incompatible with service as cadets at West Point and moreover as officers in the Army. Newly arrived leaders at all levels and branches of services are expected to analyze a unit’s status (training, morale, discipline, equipment, etc) and use their leader skills to quickly and decisively find solutions to them. While Quander was not at West Point for the 2016 honor scandal, Supe scandal, and initial cocaine ring (2016), it was intuitively obvious when he arrived in 2021 that West Point had serious problems needing solutions. New officers should be afforded a reasonable time to address issues and show success by ensuring a future devoid of scandal. 10 months into his tenure, yet another national cocaine scandal erupts. One year into his tenure, it takes a federal judge to make Quander and other West Point leaders hand over FOIA information on CRT. (units are legally required to answer FOIA). 10 months was more than enough time to root out drug offenders and ensure cadets knew that such behavior would not be tolerated. Outward appearances indicate Quander did nothing since assuming his position.
Perhaps his premeditated focus was on deepening CRT’s hooks into West Point. In a February 2021 NPR interview, the only issue he discussed concerning his new job as Commandant was white extremism.
"It's hard and it's also very challenging," Quander tells Michel Martin on All Things Considered about confronting extremism. "Because I think if it was easy, we would have fixed it a long time ago. But I do think that everyone is committed to addressing it."1
The military likes to promote DEI by stating that it is working in the corporate world, so therefore it must work for the Army. Incidentally, it is not working in the corporate world. Disney recently had to fire their CEO for being too woke as ratings and subscriptions plummeted. The global banking crisis that caused the DOW to plunge over 500 points this week was in large part caused by Credit Suisse, another outspoken woke corporation. Though West Point denies focusing on CRT, DEI and CRT fingerprints are all over its website and curriculum. Fox News just today exposed yet more pronoun training sessions at West Point.
Perhaps his focus has been on DEI/CRT at the expense of all else. Perhaps he was a good field grade officer but is just not capable of performing as a general officer. Perhaps, dare we say it, he is shielded because of his race (non-white) in the new military hyper fixated on social justice at any cost. Whatever the cause of his continued presence as Commandant, continued scandals at USMA show he is unfit for office. Will higher leaders finally do the right thing to fix the discipline and leadership climate at West Point? LTG Gilland? GEN Milley?
A commander (and commandant) is responsible for all that their unit accomplishes or fails to accomplish. This can sometimes be unfair as relief for cause can sometimes be arbitrary from superiors and ‘unfair’ if a leader’s career is ruined due to feckless actions of subordinates. Life can be unfair. The stakes are too high in the Department of Defense, especially now as careless statesmanship at home and abroad seem to be propelling the US towards a continental war in Europe. While seemingly popular with his classmates on Twitter, popularity amongst peers is not criteria for success and therefore retention. BG Quander should have been fired a year ago immediately after the 2022 cocaine scandal broke. His continued presence as commandant makes a mockery of West Point’s hallowed Worth’s Battalion Orders:
“But an officer on duty knows no one -- to be partial is to dishonor both himself and the object of his ill-advised favor. What will be thought of him who exacts of his friends that which disgraces him? Look at him who winks at and overlooks offenses in one, which he causes to be punished in another, and contrast him with the inflexible soldier who does his duty faithfully, notwithstanding it occasionally wars with his private feelings. The conduct of one will be venerated and emulated, the other detested as a satire upon soldiership and honor.
Brevet Major William Jenkins Worth
Worse, it is teaching future officers that is it ok for senior leaders to look the other way when egregious actions are committed and are further shielded from responsibility when doing so. To paraphrase rapper Eminem: ‘Will the real leadership at West Point please stand up.’ Graduates are watching. Active duty officers are watching. Most importantly, West Point cadets are watching.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Graduate Class of 1996
Co-Chair www.americanism24.org (registered SUPERPAC)
On 19 December 2022, the West Point Association of Graduates forwarded a letter from West Point Superintendent LTG Steven Gilland to graduates of the well-known military institution. The letter began with:
Long Gray Line Teammates and the West Point Community:
During the holiday break, we will begin a multi-phased process, in accordance with Department of Defense (DoD) directives, to remove, rename or modify assets and real property at the United States Military Academy (USMA) and West Point installation that commemorate or memorialize the Confederacy or those who voluntarily served with the Confederacy.
In addition to renaming barracks and gates, the Superintendent spoke of dismantling and completely revising the West Point Class of 1961’s Reconciliation Plaza. This action item is the most concerning to many. The purpose of this monument was to show actions during and after the Civil War by West Point graduates on both sides of the war that helped the nation to heal after its most emotional and violent test of solvency. Purportedly references to Lee and other Confederate generals are to be erased and the message altered. After returning from Christmas break, cadets discovered the Supe’s directives were well underway.
The Civil War is an essential part of American history. It is impossible to connect our foundation in the late 1700s to the triumphs of the 20th century and beyond without discussing the Civil War. Superficially, it resulted in the end of slavery. However, its significance and legacy goes far deeper to the educated American. Among other things, it redefined the federal government’s relationship to states. Further, actions taken by key member of both sides helped the nation to heal and become once again One Nation Under God. Reconciliation was not easy, as recognized by perhaps one of the most important protagonists in the war – Ulysses S Grant.
In The Personal Memoirs of US Grant (1982 edition), US Grant ends his book with the following commentary and hope for the future:
“I was not egoist enough to suppose all this significance should be given because I was the object of it. But the war between the States was a very bloody and a very costly war. One side or the other had to yield principles they deemed dearer than life before it could be brought to an end. I commanded the whole of the mighty host engaged on the victorious side. I was, no matter whether deservedly so or not, a representative of that side of the controversy. It is a significant and gratifying fact that Confederates should have joined heartily in this spontaneous move. I hope the good feeling inaugurated may continue to the end.”
Of note, the principles were not about just slavery as the woke politicians that Gilland seems to mindlessly follow without much thoughtful introspection want America to believe. Further, Grant doesn’t mention Lee by name, but Lee and many other Confederate leaders devoted the rest of their lives towards guiding the South to tie its future and soul to the reunified United States. It is this spirit that the Reconciliation Plaza aimed to capture and inspire cadets and the lay public. It is impossible to comprehend and debate this outcome without including USMA graduates and other leaders that served both sides in the Civil War. Without Lee, there can be no meaningful conversation of Grant. Further, Gilland’s actions undermine Grant’s dying wishes to unify the nation and to keep forever more looking forward as one country. The Supe’s actions, whether realized or not, are contributing to the increasing divide amongst USMA grads and the rest of the nation. Many grads cut their ties with West Point and its alumni association over this specific controversial move.
Following on the heels of great censors of the past including Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the People’s Republic of China, LTG Gilland seems to dutifully do his part to revise history to meet the needs of the modern progressive Democratic Party. A good ‘book burning’ is not commensurate with West Point’s two century legacy of training future officers to study history from all sides and to draw their own educated conclusions. A service academy Superintendent should be mindful of their influence (good/bad) on cadets and encourage thoughtfulness, not dogmatic indoctrination of one point of view.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Class of 1996
Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan
Co-chair of www.americanism24.org a registered SUPERPAC
Despite new leadership in the House, 2023 has unfortunately turned out as expected so far. DirectTV dropped Newsmax, removing yet another non-woke news agency from their lineup. Despite congressional protests, the streaming TV service is content to hold its ground in the grand woke assault on freedom of speech. The progressive long game to dominate the 2024 elections is already in full effect. DoD covid vaccine mandates are gone – due to legislative decree, not due to SECDEF enlightenment. On the contrary, SECDEF Austin fought the move bitterly and last week LTG Gilland at West Point allegedly reinstated the vindictive unvaccinated cadet travel ban despite zero covid deaths amongst active duty servicemembers in the past few months and zero at West Point in three years. The AMA and other large medical organizations continue to push for censorship in medicine under the guise of ‘misinformation’ protection for patients. Simultaneously, California’s Governor Newsom has not backed down on his ‘progressive’ party’s plan to eliminate patient informed consent despite a federal court ordering the law to be placed on hold for now.
Woke/progressive ideologies have become so ingrained that they are now considered to be consensus by those who wield the real power in the country – educators, medical leadership, executive branch leadership, mass media executives, and social media billionaires. As the years go by, their grip tightens and the ability to find a platform to wage a meaningful protest gets more and more difficult. Many find it frustrating that the disciples of wokeness can constantly bombard America with often incorrect information while defenders of American freedoms must tread carefully as one questionable word uttered publicly can lead to immediate cancellation and/or professional punishment. Politicians such as Congressman Pat Ryan (D-NY) are growing so bold as to give interviews that headline as “West Point Congressman Says He Has ‘Zero Time’ for Complaints About Woke Military, Focused on China.” On his campaign website, he sums up the woke spirit by splitting the country into 2 camps – those who support him and those who attack the Constitution. He brags he is going to “stand up to [such] domestic extremists.” His words, not mine.
Many professions, such as medicine and soldiering have closed their ranks to ‘un-woke’ members. As evidenced by the DoD vaccine mandate, change and restoration of Constitutional freedoms are no longer possible by working from within organizations. Dissent is viewed as ‘partisan’ by politicians and editors of medical journals. This has forced many to seek the undesired course of public speaking and political influencing to highlight egregious actions and effect change. Even with Elon Musk’s directives to expose unethical and in many cases illegal censorship at Twitter under the prior regime, little has changed. Damning internal emails and other documents are released with little to no societal introspection at large. Instead, progressives suppress what is released and are attacking Musk’s business empire in retaliation for betraying the ‘liberal code’ where the ends justify the means.
2023 will be a long year. Next year will be even worse as 2024’s election becomes more pivotal to decide if the great Constitutional experiment will survive in the 21st century.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan
Co-chair of www.americanism24.com SUPERPAC
Neanderthal – “an uncivilized, unintelligent, or uncouth person”
Something happened to Lloyd Austin between 1997 and 2003. In 1997, he was the brigade commander of 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. I arrived as a new infantry platoon leader in 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, at that time and by all accounts, infantry officers I respected spoke highly of him. By 2003, he was a BG and the assistant division commander of the 3rd Infantry Division. At the start of OIF, his division had just efficiently destroyed much of the Iraqi Army and reached Baghdad. This was a tactical and operational victory, not a strategic victory. There is a huge difference as the US military would soon find out. He spoke at a press interview after the initial invasion, denying the emerging violence saying, “There is a perception that crime is rampant. It is not.” Crime was not the issue. The power vacuum being filled by the insurgency was. Thousands of US lives and trillions of dollars later, it was clear his judgement was horribly wrong. There is a tremendous difference between operational and strategic skill.
Years later, President Biden selected Austin to serve as SECDEF. In that capacity he presided over the Afghanistan disaster, vaccine mandate debacle, abysmal recruiting policies, destruction of US military morale, and the introduction of the destructive CRT ideology. Worse, he provided terrible guidance on the war in Ukraine. Beginning as a slow grind, support escalated. Early 2023 saw yet another $40 Billion in military funding for Ukraine (not a lease, no strings attached). For the past year, Austin has not challenged multiple missteps including the President calling Putin a murderer and demanding regime change (presumptive acts of war). This past week, Austin stood proudly behind President Biden at a press conference where Biden stated, “The Secretary of State and the Secretary of the — of the military are behind me. Are — they — they’ve been deeply, deeply involved in this — this whole effort. Armored capability, as General Austin will tell you, spe- — is — has been — has been critical. And that’s why the United States has committed hundreds of armored fighting vehicles to date, including more than 500 as part of the assistance package we announced last Friday. And today — today, I’m announcing that the United States will be sending 31 Abram tanks to Ukraine, the equivalent of one Ukrainian battalion. Secretary Austin has recommended this step because it will enhance the Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives.” During the speech, the President couldn’t remember Austin’s job title.
Sending M1 tanks is a dangerous escalation in the conflict. The President and mass media have done a great job of hyping the war as a harmless venture for lay citizens to discuss for social status in between viewing TikTok videos and working on pronouns. The reality is that although Russia is not nearly as powerful as they once were as the mighty USSR, they still command more nuclear warheads than the US does. Even at the height of the Cold War, US Presidents never called for regime change and further didn’t call Soviet leaders ‘murderers.’ Proxy wars were fought, but great care was taken to ensure they did not escalate into World War 3. Sending advanced US armor to Ukraine is an escalation. This past week a key German leader even stated that NATO is already at war with Russia.
Technology and modern society have made the business of starting wars increasingly dangerous. Drones and separation of the US from most battlefields by thousands of miles have made the harsh reality of war invisible to most Americans. Such rhetoric to joyfully embrace war has not been seen for over 100 years when European leaders and populations gleefully marched to war in 1914. Ukraine face paint and flags on Twitter accounts are all the rage. In 20 years of war, less than 1% of Americans served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. The US population is so committed to risking war that the US military cannot even come close to meeting its recruiting goals. Modern America has become increasingly content with a small warrior caste fighting its wars so that its non-military majority can go about their lives, pausing only to wave Ukraine flags and fan the flames of larger conflict. A harsh reality of consequences for misguided policy may await America. Is America prepared to lose millions of US military members’ lives if the Ukraine misadventure escalates to a full scale NATO war? Is America prepared for a draft again? How about entire US cities being reduced to rubble in even a limited nuclear exchange. Likely not.
The job of the SECDEF is to advise the president on matters of national security and war. SECDEF Austin, a veteran of war, should know more than most that wars have consequences for nations and for individual soldiers committed to fight. However, he appears to have tipped his hand nearly 20 years ago at a press conference in Iraq in 2003 that he has no grasp of the strategic level of war. Iraq was relatively “cheap” at a loss of approximately 4,000 dead and $2 Trillion in funding. War with Russia will be exponentially higher. As a physician who served in war, however, I view the avoidable loss of even one soldier in battle as too many.
There seems to have been little thought to outcomes and end states. As is most wars, the root causes of this war are not nice and neat. While Russia should never have invaded, both belligerents have strategic grievances with the security situation in Europe that emerged after NATO and the US failed to consider the implications of post-USSR Europe. Further, there seems to be little consideration for how Russia will fit in to the post-conflict world. SECDEF Austin is in over his head.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan
Member of www.starrs.us
COL William “Billy” Mitchell resigned from the US Army in 1926. His rank was not commensurate with his courage and impact on the history of the US military and the United States, especially on World War 2. Enlisting as a private in 1899 in the Spanish-American War, he soon earned a commission. After serving in Cuba and the Philippines, he was stationed in Alaska where he began his lifelong love affair with aviation. A signal officer, he took private flying lessons in 1916 and soon became a leader among early Army aviators. In 1918, he commanded all American aviation assets at St Mihiel and led his 1,400+ airplane crews to victory in the air and additionally demonstrated how air power can decimate ground forces. After the war, he continued to clamor for rapid expansion of the size and capability of the air service, convinced that air power would be key to victory in the next world war. In the early 1920s, he sank a captured German battleship with American bombers during naval exercises. Instead of being hailed as a revolutionary and promoted, he was vilified as a heretic by short sighted Army and Navy commanders. He left service in 1926 but continued his public crusade to promote American military air power. Although he died in 1936, his predictions came to pass, and US military air power was undoubtedly decisive in winning World War 2. Tragically, his courage was not recognized until after his death.
Today’s military is facing a very different crisis. Throughout history it has been shown that great military leaders in any venue can carry the day. Mitchell was unafraid to risk his reputation and career for the good of the military and the nation. Today’s DoD has no such hero amongst the ranks of its senior leaders on active duty. Some lower ranking generals bravely spoke out during the debacles in OEF and Afghanistan and were fired. There were no senior generals and admirals willing to make a similar stand on the status and prosecution of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The result was predictable and unfortunate.
Post-war DoD is failing due to self-inflicted mandates and social misadventures that are destroying recruiting and morale. As a profession, it should be expected to fix itself from within, but this would assume that military leaders have the backbone to take such action. Instead, the overturning of the ill-advised vaccine mandate only happened because politicians forced SECDEF Austin to end it. One general’s protest won’t right the ship. However, if enough generals and admirals collectively protested the politically engineered destruction of the best military the world has ever known, change would be forced. Unfortunately, brave creatures would have to be willing to sacrifice their careers for the greater good.
There are 620 active-duty flag officers authorized in the DoD. Since 2021 the number of active-duty flag officers willing to show such courage is 0. Billy Mitchell must be rolling over in his grave. Thank God it is not 1939. The second half of the 20th century would have turned out more darkly given the character of modern US generals.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan
On 19 December 2022, USMA Superintendent Steven Gilland emailed a letter to the Long Gray Line, informing West Point graduates that certain historical artifacts at West Point would be modified or removed. His letter, obediently sent by the West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG), stated:
“During the holiday break, we will begin a multi-phased process, in accordance with
Department of Defense (DoD) directives, to remove, rename or modify assets and real
property at the United States Military Academy (USMA) and West Point installation that
commemorate or memorialize the Confederacy or those who voluntarily served with the Confederacy.
These directives are based on the recommendations by the Congressional Naming
Commission, mandated by the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The
Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) approved the Commission's recommendations in October
2022 and directed implementation after an NDAA mandated 90-day waiting period, that
ended on December 18.
… We will also remove the bronze triptych at the main entrance of Bartlett Hall and
Place it in storage on post.”
Bartlett Hall Triptych: This monument’s fate is far more concerning than the others listed in LTG Gilland’s plan. Created by sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser, it was a 3-panel bronze mural that was dedicated in 1965. In September 2022, the USMA public affairs spokesperson seemed to defend the triptych, telling ABC News that the artist “wanted to create art that depicted ‘historical incidents or persons’ that symbolized the principled events of the time, thereby both documenting both tragedy and triumph in our nation’s history.” The PAO further stated that the monument "also includes individuals who were instrumental in shaping principal events of that time, and symbols like the 'Tree of Life' that depict how our nation has flourished despite its tragedies." The obscure but recently noticed KKK image on the mural was meant to show racism in the tapestry of history. The commission directed the removal of the images/naming of specific Confederate generals (Lee, Stuart, Jackson, and Brooke) but did not direct that the entire triptych be removed. The commission merely directed for certain items on the large mural to be modified. West Point, however, chose to completely remove the entire 3 panel mural and place it in storage. The 4 Confederate generals and KKK reference were only 5 objects on a large 3 panel mural. The mural was well known to cadets. The tiny Confederate and KKK references on it were not, however, well known. The central large figure of President Abraham Lincoln, though, had a well-worn sculpted head because cadets like myself used to rub the Lincoln head on the way to classes for luck. West Point has chosen to remove the entire mural that had references to Union victory, President Lincoln (the great Emancipator), WW2, and Korea because they are offensive. The revisionist targeting appears to have already spread beyond the Confederacy to key white figures in American history, even Union ones.
The summer of 2020 saw BLM led riots that resulted in monuments being vandalized, removed, and destroyed nationwide. Directly or indirectly supported by national Democrat elected officials, the carnage began with Confederate statues and quickly spread to Grant, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Wilson, WW1 memorials, and many other non-Confederate monuments. The only common thread was that the damaged/destroyed/removed memorabilia all concerned white historical figures in American history.
What was Abraham Lincoln’s offense in LTG Gilland’s eyes? Across America, Lincoln statues have been defaced and removed, schools with ‘Lincoln’ in their name have been renamed, and Lincoln’s reputation has been slandered by woke politicians and mobs. Clearly lacking courage and conviction, or even common sense, LTG Gilland has ordered Abraham Lincoln to be removed and placed in storage so cadets can no longer view his ‘reviled’ face or suffer the ‘shame’ of walking past such a ‘contemptuous’ figure in American history.
LTG Gilland exceeded the mandate for selective modification of the bronze triptych and instead condemned the entire artifact, including the most prominently featured item, the rendering of President Abraham Lincoln. This is the same Lincoln who was murdered for defeating the South and freeing the slaves. Gilland also continues the recent trend of West Point superintendents to ignore Freedom of Information Act requests and to deny CRT indoctrination at West Point. Last month, he quickly gave 5 cadets refusing the Covid-19 vaccine mandate General Officer Memorandums of Reprimand, despite knowing that very soon the mandate would likely be (and was) voted to be ended by Congress. Was he wanting to be on the record to curry favor with SECDEF Lloyd Austin who had been an outspoken proponent of the vaccine and by punishing ‘disobedient’ religious servicemembers? Perhaps LTG Gilland wants to appear even more obedient and woke than his predecessor, now GEN Darryl Williams, in hopes he too will garner praise and earn a 4th star. In the process, Gilland has willingly shown his hand and expanded his CRT enabled contempt for West Point and American history by cancelling one of the greatest presidents of the United States. You go, Steven. You and Brandon (and Lloyd) are best buds now.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Graduate, Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan
On 15 December 2022, the Senate passed a colossal $858 Billion military spending bill. By a vote of 83-11, the bill passed and went to President Biden for signature. Notably, the GOP included language that eliminates the vaccine mandate for the Department of Defense. Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had vehemently opposed the proposal to remove the military vaccine mandate, claiming his mandate had saved hundreds of lives. In reality, 96 active-duty members had died of Covid-19 in nearly 3 years. Austin, who was fully vaccinated and boosted, famously contracted Covid-19 twice in 2022 alone, despite his obedience to his own mandate.
Thousands of active duty servicemembers and dozens of cadets from all service academies had been separated for refusing the vaccine, even ones who sought exemptions of religious grounds. In addition to low morale, the services had experienced enormous recruiting shortfalls, prompting 20 Republican governors to send President Biden a letter last week stating that the vaccine mandate was risking National Guard effectiveness.
On 4 December 2022, Austin had told the media, “We lost a million people to this virus. A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DoD. So, this mandate has kept people healthy.” In 2021, as soon as the vaccine was FDA approved, Austin ordered the mandate for the Covid-19 vaccination. Non-compliant servicemembers were harassed by chains of command and in many cases, separated from the military. Very few exceptions were authorized and DoD refused to provide an explanation despite repeated demands from Congress.
No cadets at the service academies died from Covid-19. Amazingly, healthy 18-22 year olds didn’t seem to be at risk from the disease itself. Less than 0.3% of deaths nationwide occurred in Americans 24 years of age and younger. Most of the Covid-19 deaths were in older Americans and those with co-morbidities, 2 categories West Point cadets in particular are absent from.
In early November 2022, the 6 remaining USMA cadets who refused the vaccine on religious grounds were ordered to get the vaccine late in the day, denying them legal recourse to examine the order. The USMA Inspector General denied cadet appeals to scrutinize the legality of the order. Despite letters of appeal from USMA graduates and a Congressman-elect discussing the issue on national TV, the Superintendent of West Point, LTG Steven Gilland, issued General Officer Memorandums of Reprimand to the cadets who then awaited separation orders.
While many who knew him before his West Point tenure describe LTG Gilland as a good and decent officer in Army line units, this particular general officer placed obedience to the SECDEF and therefore ‘brown nosing’ above religious freedom or even patience to see how the political winds will handle the mandate. His decision to go ahead and punish the cadets and prepare expulsion proceedings demonstrates his ethical downfall once he began to wear stars on his uniform.
Unless President Biden vetoes the defense spending bill that eliminates the DoD vaccine mandate, the hated military Covid-19 requirement will end. Any servicemember still on active-duty will instantly be out of jeopardy. Further congressional/senatorial demands may seek re-instatement of servicemembers and removal of unfavorable punishments meted out under SECDEF Austin’s misguided policy. The 5 cadets LTG Gilland reprimanded will remain at USMA and hopefully graduate and bring their courage and conviction to the Army. That being said, forever more it will be known that when LTG Gilland had a chance to play the hero and pause (or halt) the policy at his academy, he chose instead to be a mindless, obedient servant of the SECDEF. Cadets deserve a better leader to emulate at West Point.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of OIF/OEF
Member of www.starrs.us
On December 4, 2022, AP news reported that the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, is refusing to consider rescinding the Covid-19 vaccine mandate. In recent days, Republicans in Congress and the Senate have pushed back on the mandate, citing harm it has done to recruiting and retention in the military. Worse, the military has fallen short of recruiting goals by the tune of tens of thousands. Republicans have threatened to hold the passage of the Defense spending bill until the White House directs the vaccine to be ended. White House spokespersons said the Commander in Chief was considering the issue.
SECDEF, Austin, however, has doubled down on the vaccine mandate. ““I’m the guy” who ordered the military to require the vaccine, Austin added. “I support continuation of vaccinating the troops.”” Austin triumphantly declared that “A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DoD. So, this mandate has kept people healthy.”
Austin, a 1975 graduate of the United States Military Academy, has strayed far from his ethical roots. To date, 96 active-duty deaths have been attributed to Covid-19 since the pandemic began. This figure has not changed in the past 4 months. Less than 10 have died of Covid in the past year. The vast majority of deaths in the 690 figure he likely refers to includes contractors, dependents, and civilian DoD employees. According to the CDC, less that 0.3% of covid deaths have occurred in Americans 24 and under. The average age of US military servicemembers is 23. The DoD has repeatedly made covid statistics by age and comorbidity unavailable, likely to mask the truth that nearly all of the 96 deaths that did occur were in personnel with multiple co-morbidities and that were way over 24 years of age.
Not surprisingly, 0 cadets at any service academies have died from Covid-19. Yet, just last week, following Austin’s vindictive guidance, LTG Gilland (USMA Superintendent) gave 5 general officer letters of reprimand to 5 West Point cadets who refused the vaccine on religious grounds. All 5 face separation any day. Covid-19 is not a threat to the vast majority of DoD active-duty personnel, particularly the young Americans sorely needed as recruits.
The vaccine does not protect against Covid-19. In a famous trial in January 2022 at the height of Omicron, 27% of vaccinated and boosted NBA players still contracted Covid-19 despite vaccines, boosters, and daily Covid-19 testing of the NBA workforce to isolate infected personnel. Keep in mind the average age of NBA players is nearly a decade older than US military members’ average age. SECDEF Austin, famously vaccinated and boosted, has contracted Covid-19 twice in 2022 so far. Worse, since April 2022, the majority of deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in vaccinated Americans.
SECDEF Austin is equivocating on the truth. If he had done that as a cadet, he would have been kicked out of West Point by the Honor Committee. In addition to setting poor ethical examples for DoD, he is a poor physical example as well. Overweight Austin daily shows that he doesn’t care about the science of what actually does cause Covid-19 disability – obesity and poor health. Since early 2020 it was well known by physicians that advanced age, obesity, and co-morbidities were the biggest risk factors for age. SECDEF Austin is not manifesting any form of leadership. He should apologize for his mistake, take a math course to understand simple mathematics better, end the mandate, and buy a treadmill or join a gym.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan
Member of www.starrs.su
LTG Steven Gilland became USMA’s 61st Superintendent on 27 June 2022. Prior to this, he was a decorated combat officer and had a distinguished career in special operations and in the conventional Army. He assumed his duties at West Point at a very challenging time in the wake of the messes made by prior Superintendents. It is easy to look at his illustrious career and interview prior subordinates who praised his past leadership and ask that public opinion give him a pass with the ethical dilemma of unvaccinated military servicemembers.
Before Disney/Pixar became a woke machine focused on indoctrinating America’s children, it made many movies with sound morals and sage, timeless advice. Its 1998 classic Bug’s Life has a scene where the evil grasshopper Hopper tells the young new ant queen, “First rule of leadership: everything is your fault.”
It is no longer April 2020. Covid hasn’t just arrived in the US. There is not a sea of unknowns about the virus and the vaccine. This is not the Spanish flu that killed over 45,000 servicemembers and nearly imperiled the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of 2018, prolonging a war. LTG Gilland has been aware of the DoD vaccine mandate for over a year. He volunteered to become Superintendent knowing that the question of dispositions of unvaccinated cadets was unanswered.
Once a commander assumes the office and issues the first order, he/she owns the position and all of the unit’s problems. It is unfortunate that the confluence of a new Superintendent with a stellar career, a virus that has killed less than 100 servicemembers in nearly 3 years, 6 cadets who value freedom of speech and religion, and a misguided DoD mandate occurred within months of his arrival. His predicament is manifest in the term ‘loneliness of command.’ Commanders/generals are surrounded by staffs, but in the end, they alone must make the decision and they alone own it.
The Superintendent position is bigger than any person. Many excellent officers in history have had careers cut short due to events beyond their control including but not limited to higher commanders who have grudges against lower officers, unlucky circumstances that resulted in damage to equipment or injury to soldiers, and/or a good officer ‘doing the right thing’ and falling on their sword to protect subordinates. With today’s politics in Washington DC that are becoming increasingly hostile to DoD’s steadfast reluctance to eliminate the mandate, it is quite possible that if LTG Gilland resists pressure to separate the unvaccinated cadets, no harm will befall his career. It is improbable given the 2022 election results that the Chief of Staff of the Army or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs will make a public spectacle of rebuking or relieving him. It is also quite possible that doing the right thing could end his career. He may also just opt to separate the cadets and try to wither the storm and also hide behind the above argument to give him an ethical pass because he is the ‘new guy.’
In the end, officers have to find out for themselves what they truly value. If sacrificing 6 cadets to make the flag officer’s retirement shadow box brighter, then they will have to live with the dishonor of what they have done. Conversely, many ethical officers gladly sacrifice a few extra trinkets in a picture frame for the lifelong knowledge that they did the right thing, superiors be damned. Whatever the Superintendent decides, he will own the decision and must not be allowed to have an ethical pass because he had a great career and is ‘new.’ If the keeper of the Honor Code behaves this way, then West Point is obsolete and should be closed as it is failing in its core mission from the top down.
John Hughes, MD
Member of www.starrs.us
1 Bug’s Life. Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar. 1998
For too long, the forces of evil in the US have been keeping non-Woke Americans on their heels, forcing them to constantly react and chase balls like manic puppies. The education community caved first, with the head of the 1.7 million strong National Federation of Teachers (Ms Randi Weingarten) recommending amnesty for decisions made during the pandemic. Up until the summer of 2020, such a request could have seemed reasonable. Not much was known about covid or its effets. Over 2 years later, it is criminal.
It is past time to go on the offensive. In areas including but not limited to covid vaccine and side effects, covid mandates, opioid deaths, psychological and educational trauma to children, defunding the police, and economic damage from misguided policies it is time to start associating key officials by name with their policy and the untoward outcomes.
Regarding the DoD covid vaccine mandate, for example, it has been known for some time what populations were most at risk (elderly, serious medical conditions) and rightfully needed to be protected from the virus from Wuhan Province. It has also been known for some time that there were serious side effects associated with the vaccine. The data on side effects was willfully and knowingly suppressed by Pfizer under the cover of the US federal government with the power to suppress such information. Specific individuals that can be named from Pfizer and the government were involved. Disparate reports of harm done to young Americans by the vaccine are widespread; up until recently, anyone daring to acknowledge their existence faced cancel culture socially, economically, and professionally. Recently, Pfizer has finally spoken the word ‘myocarditis’ with its announcement of investigation into the ‘possible’ side effects of the vaccine and long-term consequences. Amazingly, even NBC news announced the investigation. Unfortunately, it is well known that NFL football player Da’Vion Miller was far from the only one affected. The rumors of the effects did not emerge in November of 2022. They emerged long ago and those who sounded the alarm early on like Dr Peter McCullough were professionally ruined and, in his case, actually sued.
Misguided and selfish as they are, modern US generals are still smart individuals. Most have graduate degrees and are very well read. In spite of this, they rubber stamped the vaccine mandate for young military servicemembers who were at little if any risk of dying from Covid. If informed consent was allowed, soldiers would have been told that the risk of harm from the Covid virus was likely equal to or less than the risk of the vaccine.
Some reports put the number of servicemembers eliminated for vaccine noncompliance at over 15,000. This is roughly the equivalent of a US Army division. The last time a US division got wiped out was at the Battle of the Bulge when the green 106th infantry division was destroyed by the experienced Wehrmacht in December 1944. Current US generals have succeeded in destroying enough combat power to field a division for a disease that killed at total of 98 servicemembers in nearly 3 years. A disease that has almost a 0% kill rate in young healthy servicemembers and who are at the highest risk of myocarditis (particularly young males) and other complications of the vaccine.
It is time by name to hold Pfizer, CDC officials, certain politicians, and individual generals and DoD leaders responsible for any and all side effects/deaths from the vaccine that they forced on servicemembers. They were not ‘following the science’ and their actions ran counter to a century of informed consent and to 3 years’ worth of data and charts on the impact of Covid. ‘I was just following orders’ was an excuse given by Nazi officers during WW2. It didn’t hold up then and it shouldn’t hold up now. Just like in the Nuremburg trials, it is past due to begin prosecuting our misguided, blindly obedient generals who have knowingly and consciously weakened our military and worse put our nation’s most precious resource (our sons and daughters in the military) at risk.
2 months after President Biden declared the pandemic over, LTG Gilland, West Point Superintendent, is actually contemplating expelling 6 more servicemembers (West Point cadets) for vaccine non-compliance. The only thing generals respond to these days are threats against their careers. It is time to bring that career threat and potential criminal presecution to US general and further begin to debate criminal intent and for them to know what could happen if they emerge on the ‘wrong side of history.’ It won’t be ignored and forgiven. It is time to go on the offense to bring the misguided whole house of cards down and restore not only our military but also our Democracy. The best defense is a good offense and they are less likely to inflict further damage on our military if they are fearing investigation and punishment.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Class of 1996
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”
This timeless wisdom from General Douglas MacArthur is both sage and sorely needed counsel for modern American general officers. Twice, MacArthur and officers of his caliber saved the country and the world from tyranny in wars that engulfed the entire world. Though charismatic, he had relevance in US military operations from WW1 to the Korean war not just because of his technical ability to command armies but also because of his moral fiber as a leader. On April 11, 1951, President Truman fired General MacArthur for his public statements regarding how the revered general thought the Korean War should be fought. Taking a stand cost MacArthur his command and his career, but highlighted what was special about one of America’s most famous generals. He was willing to risk his career for what he believed in. That altruistic belief was not about personal promotion or cushy post-military employment (goals that corrupt too many general officers of today). His concern was about the nation. It was about the troops in his command and winning a war.
Fast forward to 2022. The new breed of generals and admirals advance through the ranks but very few if any will be remembered in the history books decades from now. None have been ‘mavericks’ arguing for any new methods of warfare. They presided over a disaster in Afghanistan where no senior leaders were fired or held accountable. A political ideology has consumed the branches of service with little to no pushback from senior military leaders. Nearly 15,000 military servicemembers have been booted from the ranks for a controversial vaccine mandate. From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to Service Chiefs to senior commanders to academy Superintendents, generals and admirals have obediently and faithfully executed the bidding of political masters to the detriment of the force. Recruiting and retention levels are at crisis levels. US military strategic deterrent is a disaster. Admiral Charles Richard recently stated, “We used to know how to move fast, and we have lost the art of that,” the admiral added. The military talks “about how we are going to mitigate our assumed eventual failure” to field new ballistic submarines, bombers or long-range weapons, instead of flipping the question to ask: “What’s it going to take? Is it money? Is it people? Do you need authorities?” That’s “how we got to the Moon by 1969.”
In September 2022, the Commander in Chief declared the COVID-19 pandemic over. Since then, the Coast Guard academy shamefully threw out more cadets over the mandate. ‘"They were escorted to the gate like they were criminals or something," the lawyer, Michael Rose, told the newspaper. “No one helped them with travel arrangements or gave them any money," said Rose, based in Summerville, S.C.. "One had to get to California, one to Alaska. One's estranged from home and living out of his truck, according to an email I received describing his situation." Rose said two of the seven cadets had no homes to return to.’
No senior flag officers have had the courage or initiative to take a stand for the force. There is a chance that such a move could cost the leader their career. Knowing this, none have stepped up to become a true leader of character. West Point Superintendent Steven Gilland began the process to separate 6 cadets at West Point who are unvaccinated and were denied religious exemptions. There is a high likelihood that he will follow through and spend the rest of his 4 ½ years as Superintendent doing what Superintendents do – waving at football games and parades and doing the usual admin and ceremonial duties of the position. If he does, decades from now he will be lumped in with the rest of the quiet, do-nothing generals and admirals who feverishly achieved mediocracy and never took a stand on anything of import in their career.
Or, he could be that general that looked at the moment in history and opined on what should really be done. The pandemic is over. 0 cadets have died. Morale is low across the military and recruiting is a disaster. He could be that guy that granted exemptions and began the movement to end the DoD mandate so the military could focus on real issues, not manufactured social crises from its partisan political leadership. It could cost him his job. He already has a comfortable retirement pension guaranteed. But taking that stand now to buck the lazy groupthink that has infected the general officer corps would most certainly make him a hero in the eyes of many. He could be that guy that took a stand to begin to turn the page and resurrect the military from the ‘funk’ it is in at the moment. The eyes of many of the cadets and Long Gray Line members are on him. Does he have the character to think independently and be a real leader and begin the end of the destructive COVID-19 vaccine purge?
As Spike Lee instructed in his 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing.”
John Hughes, MD
West Point Class of 1996 (#1 grad)
Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan
Member of www.starrs.us
West Point’s Honor Code is simple and clear. Engraved on a wall in the Thayer Walk Honor Plaza, it states, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” In May 2020, 73 cadets were accused of cheating on a calculus exam. Of these, 6 cadets resigned during the investigation, 4 cadets were acquitted, and 2 cases against cadets were dropped. Of the 61 ‘found’ guilty of cheating, 8 were expelled, 2 were turned back 6 months, and the remaining 51 were turned back one year. 45 of the accused were athletes, and of these, 24 were football players. “A few have played in football games this season after having been accused of cheating. Some of those players [were able to] dress and play in the  Liberty Bowl on Thursday, according to Army Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, a West Point spokesman [at the time in 2021].”1 Amazingly, the Superintendent at the time, a former Army football player, allowed the football players to continue playing during the investigation. In another era, when West Point’s graduates actually won wars, the cadets would have been tried before the Honor committee and, if ‘found’ guilty, expelled immediately.
In December 2021, a West Point cadet quietly graduated late and is now an officer in the Army. Unofficial reports indicated that the cadet was the subject of an honor code investigation and educational vignette in which the cadet stole a watch from the PX and was caught on camera. The same Superintendent, LTG Darryl Williams, apparently allowed the cadet to graduate. When questioned by Class of 1962 graduates at a reunion in 2022, he stated he had no knowledge of the event. In another era, cadets who stole would be tried by the Honor committee and, if ‘found’ guilty, would have been promptly expelled.
Fast forward to November 2022. Just days after subjecting a contingent of several hundred West Point cadets to extreme COVID-19 risks at the West Point/Air Force Academy Football game in a Texas stadium with 33,000+ fans (many unvaccinated), West Point’s current Superintendent (LTG Steven Gilland) moved to order the remaining unvaccinated cadets to get vaccinated or face expulsion. The cadets applied for and were denied an exemption on religious grounds. The cadets now face UCMJ administrative action that can include involuntary separation under either Honorable Conditions or General Under Honorable Conditions. The latter means the cadets, if discharged from West Point and the Army could face job discrimination for the remainder of their lives, similar to soldiers who are discharged for serious infractions or crimes.
LTG Gilland assumed duties as the Superintendent in June 2022. He was not Superintendent during the above-listed scandals involving lying, cheating, and stealing. He also does not control the official Army COVID-19 vaccine policy. He does, however, have the authority and influence to help those in his command obtain waivers. He clearly has shown no interest in granting waivers to cadets having religious objections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment of the US Constitution. He owes cadets, the Long Gray Line of graduates, and the nation an explanation for why West Point has adopted this upside-down moral directive. Clearly, he and West Point view religious freedom as a worse moral defect than lying, cheating, and/or stealing. These 6 cadets will likely soon become civilians due to their religious beliefs, while the other cadets convicted of lying, cheating, and/or stealing will be officers leading the US Army’s soldiers.
If you would like to weigh in on the issue, consider going to change.org and signing a petition condemning West Point’s misguided moral system.
Petition link: https://chng.it/JKj55wGh5r
8.4% of female servicemembers reported being sexually assaulted in 2021. With over 224,000 females on active duty that amounts to over 18,000 women reporting assault. These 18,000 women, in addition to the rest of DoD, have been ordered to accept the new DoD transgender policy. Servicemembers have no say in whether or not transgender servicemembers (even before transition begins) can shower with them, live in their dorm rooms, or join in other areas of their garrison and deployed lives. Training has been clear that servicemembers who object to the integration will be investigated for violations of equal opportunity policy. Further, training has made it clear that transgenders can withhold the fact they are transitioning from anyone but commanders and medical personnel. As a result, female servicemembers are not allowed to ask if a new roommate or showermate with male genitalia is transgender.
RLE (Real Life Experience) as defined by DoDI (1300.28 (30 April 2021) “In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members”:
“The phase in the gender transition process during which the individual begins living socially in the gender role consistent with their self-identified gender. RLE may or may not be preceded by the commencement of cross-sex hormone therapy, depending on the medical treatment associated with the individual Service member, cadet, or midshipman’s gender transition. The RLE phase is also a necessary precursor to certain medical procedures, including gender transition surgery. RLE generally encompasses dressing in the new gender, as well as using self-identified gender berthing, bathroom, and shower facilities.”
Sexual assault victims commonly suffer for a sense of loss of control of their body. Many continue to experience PTSD of the events. As a physician, I fail to see in any form how ordering 18,000 female service member rape victims to accept showering and living with a servicemember with male genitalia without notification or any ability to reasonably request accommodations for their sexual assault healing process is acceptable.
Women comprise over 16% of the military’s force. Estimates vary widely on the transgender component, ranging from 0.3% to 1% with the DoD estimate from 2019 being the higher number. With the military taking the civilian sector’s lead in suppressing news and statistics concerning transgender sexual assault against cis women, this is a disturbing development. This article does not allege that all transgender servicemembers are predators. On the contrary, to provide the benefit of the doubt, the vast majority are likely non-violent and patriotic like any other group of Americans. However, numerous reports of assaults have managed to avoid the intense suppression by school boards and mass media. Likely the incidence of assaults is far higher.
Even if there is no risk of sexual assault against cis women, mandating victims of sexual assault to shower and live in close quarters and see male genitalia against their will is evil. Clearly, this plan was not adequately thought through. Worse, if DoD leaders knew about this major problem and proceeded anyway to appease political masters, then a public and national debate must immediately be done to safeguard the rights and medical needs of cis women. As it stands the translation of the policy is that cis-gender females don’t matter in the military anymore. As a brother to two former female servicemembers and spouse of a retired USAF officer, the details of the policy border on treachery.
Transgender patients are frequently on numerous psychiatric medications to control their issues beyond gender dysphoria. Adding multiple high dose sexual hormone treatments is likely to make emotional issues worse, especially during the transition process. This adds to the problematic plan to have them living with male genitalia with female cis-gender servicemembers, particularly ones who have been victims of rape and assault.
As an ER physician for over 20 years, I have treated many women who were sexual assault victims. Even years after the event, many are still uncomfortable around male doctors. Imagine now subjecting them to living conditions against their will.
In Iraq, our brigade had a battalion of all male soldiers from a NATO country. Their soldiers didn’t respect women as the US military does (or at least did at one time) and they often just walked into the female shower areas. In addition to them attempting to get gratuitous views of our soldiers, several near assaults were averted by our male soldiers who quickly stood by to guard our female soldiers with 2x4s. If generals won’t protect our soldiers, I am quite confident the lower ranks will take care of their own and much friction will result. Generals need to realize that if they intend to integrate transgender servicemembers to the military that it doesn’t have to be a zero sum game where cis-gender women lose their rights and self-respect.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Class of 1996
Member of www.starrs.us
In 2017, Senator Rand Paul was attacked by neighbor Rene Boucher. Paul suffered multiple broken ribs and a complicated recovery. Boucher was sentenced to fines, community service, and prison time. Mocking an injury such as this could be expected from career politicians and their families. For example, in 2020, Christine Pelosi (daughter of Nancy Pelosi) tweeted, “Rand Paul’s neighbor was right.”
Mocking an injury is not expected from a retired Navy admiral. On his official campaign @FrankenforIowa Twitter page, Retired Admiral Michael Franken tweeted on January 20, 2021: “Wasn’t Rand’s neighbor more than a little in the right?”
Franken is the Democrat nominee for the 2022 Iowa Senate election. Predictably, he is running on his Navy service, appealing to public respect for his rank. His website has 3 stars above his name, presumably for the 3 stars he earned before retiring as a Vice-Admiral. The site also has several pictures of Franken in his uniform saluting. His Senate campaign webpage states, “Michael Franken has dedicated his life to serving our country and doing what’s right.” The gestures and imagery appear to betray his attempt to portray himself as a respectable, respectful retired naval officer. Praising a personal physical attack against a sitting Senator and defending the attacker are not exactly virtues of military officers, not to mention flag officers. Such contemptuous behavior instead describes an individual willing to descend into the gutter to score quick political points with his far-left base.
His campaign site goes on to brag about how he opposed President Bush’s war in Iraq while praising President Obama’s foreign policy successes in the Middle East. Franken served as the Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa from 2012 to 2013. The escalating turmoil that occurred in Yemen and other countries in the region after his “successful” command indicates he is as partisan as he is untruthful about US military operations and takes no responsibility for world events that happened on his watch. Both actions serve to promote his image and campaign. Neither reflects the honorable actions expected of a retired 3-star flag officer.
2021 witnessed the end game of 20 years of lies from flag officers on the war in Southwest Asia. It also saw the naked display of political partisanship by senior US military generals and admirals who openly rebuked a sitting President (Republican) and enthusiastic execution of hyperpartisan Critical Race Theory and other Democrat social justice causes. Franken’s actions are not surprising. Retiring in 2017, his career ended during the time US military leaders began to sully the honor of their office.
Iowa voters should be wary at the polls.
“The prevalence of gender dysphoria is 0.005-0.014% for males and 0.002-0.003% for females in the US.”1 However, according to the Williams Institute, 1.4% of 13-17-year-olds identify as transgender.2 Gender dysphoria is not new and is a legitimate medical condition. The real incidence is difficult to quantify due to political debate and social media amplification of sympathy for the issue. The background incidence long known in the behavioral health community is a more believable figure. A nearly 300 times increased incidence in adolescents is a frightening data point. This mismatch of numbers indicates a high likelihood the vast majority of the 1.4% figure doesn’t actually have dysphoria. For the military population, that gap is problematic.
Personal space and privacy are not a high priority in the military due to its inherent mission. Group showers, open bays, large open-style bathrooms, and lack of privacy in the field are norms of the profession. Needless to say, modesty is not a reasonable expectation in many units in the military.
Beginning in 2016, the military began to allow transgender soldiers to serve in the military. In 2022, training and accommodation plans accelerated. The military is ramping up its harassment policies and training. From pronoun training to new protocols for active-duty gender affirmation, the Department of Defense is very active with accommodations for this specific community. One Army briefing is hosted on YouTube. The link is in the references below.3
The Army policy, as briefed, contains 2 concerning components. First, the briefing states, “The care required to transition is individualized and often does not include surgical treatment.” Second, the briefing states, “Some individuals prefer that no one knows they are transitioning, while others may want to discuss it openly.” Combined, this means soldiers with male genitalia can covertly discuss their plan with the commander and medical providers. Then, the soldier gets placed in barracks with soldiers that have female genitalia (women). Women are not allowed to ask if their new roommate who has male genitalia is transitioning unless the ‘transgender soldier’ permits. This opens the door for abuse of policy where non-transgender males choose to reside in female barracks or for non-transgender males to pretend to desire to transition. This can be traumatizing to many women that have been victims of sexual assault and have no say about a new roommate or shower mate that has male genitalia. Women who ask for confirmation of the new soldiers’ intentions can be prosecuted for harassment. There have been multiple instances in the past 2 years of ‘gender fluid’ individuals with male genitalia sexually assaulting women in traditionally female spaces.
The simple and obvious solution is to not allow soldiers to occupy showers, barracks rooms, or any other intimate spaces until they have surgically had their genitalia permanently altered to the identified form. This demonstrates intention and conviction to follow through with their identity plans and decreases the risk of inappropriate behavior and sexual assaults. It also allows more time for stabilization, psychologically and medically (hormone drugs).
Vignettes in the Army module don’t cover any of these contentious issues. The Army, and likely DoD in general, is moving ahead too rapidly without having thought out prudent and rational ways to integrate transgenders into the force while safeguarding female servicemembers.
3https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzx4Na3wrA4&t=138s (Army Transgender Policy Training)
On November 5, 2022, West Point will play its annual football game with the Air Force Academy. The game will be held in Dallas, Texas again. Due to its proximity to my home, I will be in attendance with several West Point alumni friends and with my wife who is a USAFA graduate.
The 2020 honor scandal involved many Army football players. To date, West Point and the Army have blocked freedom of information (FOIA) requests from West Point graduates to review the current form of the cadet honor code and details of the outcome of the investigation. It seems 15-1 (the honor code guide) became unavailable to cadets and the public after 2018.
On 10 March 2022, several Army cadets including Army football players overdosed on cocaine and fentanyl on spring break in Florida. On 17 March 2022, Superintendent Williams began the stonewalling process in a letter sent to the Long Gray Line asking for silence from graduates on the matter. Worse, several days later, the New York Post reported on a culture of cocaine abuse, particularly amongst West Point football players, that had apparently existed since at least 2016.1 Correlation does not equal causation, but it is interesting to note that West Point seemed to have a miraculous change of fortune in football standings during the period that allegedly featured cocaine abuse in West Point’s football locker room. Also, the Superintendent of West Point during the majority of their recent winning seasons and time of scandal was a former Army football player. Concerns of the Superintendent loosening ethical standards for football players continue to circulate amongst graduates. Now GEN Williams was Superintendent of West Point from 2018-2022.
Year Army Football Record Cocaine Bowl Game
2016 8-5 cocaine? won
2017 10-3 cocaine? won
2018 11-2 cocaine? won
2019 5-8 cocaine?
2020 9-3 cocaine? lost
2021 9-4 cocaine? won
Since the scandal broke, West Point has ignored several FOIA requests for information related to the investigation that was promised and required. One of the few that was answered was filed 22 August 2022 by a 1971 USMA grad who got the following reply on 14 October 2022, more than 7 months after the cocaine scandal became national news.
“In accordance with the Army Regulations 25-55, The Army Freedom of information Act Program, we have confirmed with the custodian of the records that the investigation is not yet completed. Please follow up with our office in 30 business days, whereas we will facilitate the confirmation of the investigation’s completion. Once the investigation is complete, you may re-submit your request for processing.”
General Patton generated the plan and began movement of Allied forces to defeat the German army at the Battle of the Bulge in less than 36 hours. West Point has taken more than 7 months to investigate 5 cadets who the nation knows purchased cocaine and fentanyl. With this decline in general officer ability, it is little wonder the Kabul 2021 disaster happened.
As of 17 October 2022, West Point is 2-4 and USAFA is 5-2. While I like a winning season as much as anyone, the events of the past year have highlighted what is truly important at the service academies. Football standing doesn’t even make the top 10. The past few Commander in Chief trophies that West Point has bragged about are tainted with cocaine and dishonor to many graduates.
Honor and integrity are straightforward concepts. While no institution enjoys airing its laundry in public, the importance of trust with the public and graduates should compel West Point leaders to publicly demonstrate that it has examined the problems and revealed the fundamental changes made to fix the academy. The disturbing trend among general officers from the Afghanistan war to hide or distort the truth appears to be continuing. Is West Point cocaine free? Has West Point fixed the egregious mistakes it has made in the honor code in the past few years? We may never know.
To many, West Point sets the ethical and moral tone for the rest of the Army. It is noteworthy that amidst these recent West Point scandals and general officer stonewalling, The US is 0-1 in wars (Afghanistan) and isn’t even close to meeting its recruiting goals.
Which team will come to Dallas next month? Will the team that took advantage of Superintendent Williams’ laxed policies that created the environment for the honor and cocaine scandals show up. Or, will a team representing what West Point is supposed to be, an honorable institution whose sole purpose is to train officers to win our nation’s wars, take the field.
No matter what the score, I will cheer for the game that features cadets from 2 academies who pledge to defend America. I pray that at the conclusion of the game, the Army football team that stands at attention towards Army fans during the playing of the Army Alma Mater will live up to the ideals in the lyrics.
Army Alma Mater
Hail, Alma Mater dear,
To us be ever near.
Help us thy motto bear
Through all the years.
Let Duty be well performed.
Honor be e'er untarned
Country be ever armed.
West Point, by thee.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Graduate Class of 1996
1Kennedy, Dana, et al. Cocaine and pain pills: Inside Secret Drug Culture at West Point. New York Post, 19 March 2022.
On October 1, 2022, Yahoo News reported about toxic jet fuel polluting drinking water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. “The Navy said it found only ‘traces’ of jet fuel in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.” Navy leaders initially stated that there was no jet fuel contamination in the potable water tanks and denied sailors medical treatment, but then changed their story when sailors texted pictures of the water. Later tests confirmed it was in the water (JP-5 hydrocarbons).1 The symptoms the sailor described (vomiting, stomach upset, rashes, and coughing) are all symptoms of hydrocarbon toxicity if ingested, breathed, or exposed to on skin.
While the investigation is ongoing and more information will surely come to light, the ‘teachable moment’ here is integrity. Public trust in the military and its leaders is in steady decline. Surveys show it decreased from 70% (2018) to 56% (March 2021)2 and is surely lower now after the Afghanistan disaster. The military was once one of the most respected and trusted institutions. Many recent issues have contributed to the damaged reputation. 20 years of lies culminated in the disaster in Kabul in August 2021, and even then senior officers continue to double down on the charade. Just last week, the West Point Superintendent, LTG Steve Gilland corrected alumni at a reunion and insisted that Afghanistan was ‘not a disaster.’ Service academy generals have denied repeatedly that the cadets are being indoctrinated in critical race theory CRT). West Point refused to answer Freedom of Information Act requests and it took Judicial Watch to successfully sue for the release of the evidence. In the end, over 500 pages of CRT indoctrination materials were released that showed West Point was pushing CRT. At the same alumni dinner last week LTG Gilland continued to deny CRT indoctrination despite the court ordered release of evidence to the contrary.
In the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger, Admiral James Greer (played by James Earl Jones) said the following on his deathbed to Jack Ryan (played by Alec Baldwin):
“You took an oath, if you recall, when you first came to work for me. And I don't mean to the National Security Advisor of the United States, I mean to his boss... and I don't mean the President. You gave your word to his boss: you gave your word to the people of the United States. Your word is who you are.”
Once one of the most revered professions in American culture, the military is losing its credibility. To be clear, the issue does not seem to with the vast majority of honorably serving members but instead with the senior leadership. Flag officers are supposed to set the ethical and moral tone of the military and their guidance should come from the Service Academies. The motives for flag officers’ moral decline is not clear, but likely a mixture of weakness, corruption, selfishness, and a desire for promotion at all costs.
Whether there is any scandal in how the JP-5 got into the ship’s drinking water, the takeaway is that the ship’s leadership continued recent flag officer traditions of being less than truthful with initial statements made concerning the event. Servicemembers under their commands should be able to trust their leaders to make the best decisions for the unit and the mission. Integrity is vital. Officers should give orders that are followed because their charges trust them to make the right decisions. Officer’s words should never have to be questioned. As Spike Lee famously said, “Do the right thing.” The public demands and deserves a military that is truthful in issues such as readiness, fiscal responsibility, and the status of missions. America entrusts its loved ones to flag officers/leaders with the understanding that their honor and integrity are still more than just meaningless words.
To the young servicemembers – it is unfortunate that you must often look to someone other than your senior leader for ethical mentoring. Be aware of the shortcomings of today’s generation of senior leaders so that when you time comes to lead, you do it better.
John Hughes, MD
USMA Class of 1996
3rd Generation West Pointer
4 combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan
1Epstein, Jake. “The US Navy said ‘traces’ of jet fuel were found in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. A sailor says the problem was way worse.” Yahoonews.com 1 October 2022
2Shane, Leo. “Trust in the Military is Dropping Significantly, New Survey Suggests.” Military Times. 10 March 2021.
On 17 September, 2022, Dr Wu Zunyou, China’s chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first monkeypox case in China. At the same briefing on Weibo he warned against contact with foreigners. "It is necessary and important to strengthen the monitoring and prevention of monkeypox," Wu wrote in his post, emphasizing the risk of disease spreading through international travel and close contact. He gave five recommendations for the public -- the first being, "Do not have skin-to-skin contact with foreigners."1
China’s population is 91% Han Chinese. The other 8-9% are of Asian descent. Approximately 200,000 foreigners reside in China. China is one of the most homogenous countries in the world and has been accused of genocide against Uyghurs, who are of a different ethnicity and religion. Dr Wu’s statement appears racist in its call for ostracizing all people in China who don’t look like the 91% Han Chinese. Further, monkeypox is an STD and the first monkeypox clusters were in ‘Westerners’ who practiced deviant sexual behaviors. Thus, Dr Wu could be describing all Westerners as sexually deviant.
From a common sense standpoint, such a recommendation could be considered pragmatic in that the index case was a non-Han Chinese westerner. Further, every country in every era of time has had racism embedded in its culture. Thus, whether Wu’s statement was meant to be racist or not, it is not too far fetched to see how a public advocate could make such a recommendation about a specific group of people. However, China has a habit of subjugating humans who don’t look like them within and without their borders.
The problem is that US politicians and medical entities have given Dr Wu’s comment a complete pass. When former President Trump restricted travel with China in early 2020, he was called a xenophobe. The same commentators later interestingly criticized him for not taking that exact action earlier, but didn’t take back the racist moniker. The next year, when ‘their’ President restricted travel to 8 southern African nations when omicron emerged (despite the correct observations and pleas from South African health leaders not to), Biden received no such criticism. Within the medical community, doctors have criticized Trump’s ‘xenophobia.’ The American College of Emergency Physicians even went as far as issuing a statement in mid 2020 stating “The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) denounces racism and all senseless acts of violence. Racism is a social determinant of health.” ACEP was quiet over Biden’s restrictions placed against Black African nations and has similarly been quiet concerning Dr Wu’s post.
Three conclusions emerge from the latest statement involving policy recommendations along racial lines. 1. China is a ‘world’ phobic society that discriminates against non-Han Chinese. 2. Woke Westerners only decry racism when it involves a political enemy (ie Trump and Republicans). 3. Woke Westerners continue to give China a pass on their racist and genocidal policies, possibly out of admiration of Marxism that drives CRT and other blessings they hope to force on the Western World. Ie – the Woke don’t want to insult their friends.
The rest of us should take note. Woke politicians and doctors are proudly standing up to be counted with the enemies of freedom and human decency.
John Hughes, MD
USMA Class of 1996
3rd Generation West Pointer
4 combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan
One year ago, Afghanistan veterans such as myself were treated to the horror of watching the Afghanistan government and military collapse. The dreaded black and white Taliban flag was planted in far too many familiar regions I had been deployed to. Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Zabul provinces. My niece was hastily deployed to Kabul Airport to assist in the frantic and embarrassing retreat of the US and the humiliating end of America’s Longest War.
Like many, I am forever haunted by the sacrifice of veterans and their families. NCOs sobbing while recalling pulling charred US bodies out of downed aircraft. A soldier with a gunshot wound through his hand cutting a thumb hole so he could operate a turret .50 cal machine gun and get back in the fight with his comrades. An NCO drowning himself in a submerged vehicle so his unconscious friend in the overturned vehicle had enough oxygen to survive until rescue. Watching countless patrols depart daily to fight the Taliban and other terror organization in the Afghanistan countryside, without fear or hesitation. I personally pronounced many US and coalition warriors dead and signed their death certificates. The Talibans’ release of thousands of hardened terrorists and murders who had been incarcerated with much sacrifice in US blood and money was a terrific insult to the warriors who captured them. Reading stories of the torture and murder of Afghan nationals abandoned by President Biden, betrayed by a lie from US military and political generals, was infuriating. Military families saddled with deployment stress, divorces, and deaths equally bear the horrors. My wife continues to provide counseling to Afghanistan veterans with PTSD still struggling to put their lives back together.
Meanwhile, the US military has done its best to sweep the debacle under the rug to hide the shame of its leaders. 4 months after the last US service member abandoned the country to terrorist rule, GEN Mark Milley was honored at the sidelines of the US Military Academy and US Air Force Academy Football Game in Dallas, Texas. Generals who failed the servicemembers and America continue to serve and get promoted.
The US Military appears to have been doing no introspection on how August 2021 came to pass West Point’s Dean of Cadets told USMA graduates that West Point’s leadership sees no need to have cadets analyze Afghanistan’s strategic failure. The US Army Chief of Staff’s Reading List has been updated in the past year to include books on social justice and internet misinformation, but no additions to strategically analyze the failure of US generals and politicians in Afghanistan.1 Sadly, some of the best books on the US military leaders’ failure in Afghanistan were published nearly a decade before August 2021 and obviously were ignored by generals more concerned with promotion and fame than with making a stand for what was easily seen as a failed strategy for years. In the Graveyard of Empires (2010)2, Afghanistan the Perfect Failure3 (2012), Losing Small Wars4 (2011) are examples of books nowhere to be seen in US Army military professional development lists.
The honorable thing to do would have been for US generals to resign in protest. Honor is obviously a foreign thing to ‘leaders’ like GEN Mark Milley who was more interested in consorting with Chinese generals (the enemy) than looking after his charges. Unlike most organizations like sports teams and corporations, the military rewards and promotes failed leaders instead of firing them and replacing them with leaders with integrity and a will to win.
The post Afghanistan Department of Defense has been busy promoting pronoun education5 and separating veterans for covid vaccine noncompliance (70% of whom received General Discharges)6. Morale is so low that US military is failing miserable to achieve its recruiting goals. 28 July 2022 saw Democrats take advantage of veterans by adding on $400 Billion in spending to a veteran benefit bill and politicizing the plight of veterans when the GOP blocked it and demanded a clean bill. Looking back, President Biden’s State of the Union address that called for veteran health benefits for toxic chemical injuries appears just to have been a ruse to fool America into more reckless spending.
Despite the best efforts of US military flag officers and politicians, the scars of the war will never be forgotten by those that truly matter. The sacrifice of the living and the dead was very real. Failed leaders such GEN Milley need to be remembered alongside traitors such as Benedict Arnold for their treachery and selfishness. While Afghanistan may have ultimately been ‘unwinnable,’ and missteps were made by both political parties, the manner in which the US ended its misadventure is unforgivable. US Voters and historians must never let President Biden and his Democrat supporters off the hook for their transgressions. Worse, the military’s leadership appears to have learned nothing and its senior leaders/advisors are destined to doom American to future disasters. Ironically, it was far left CNN’s own reporter who summed up the disaster best. “If This Isn’t Failure, What Does Failure Look Like Exactly?7”
John Hughes, MD
USMA Class of 1996 (#1 graduate)
3rd Generation West Pointer
4 combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan
1 www.army.mil/leaders/csa/readinglist as of 4 AUG 2022.
2 Jones, Seth. In the Graveyard of Empires. WW Norton & Company. 2009.
3 Cook, John. Afghanistan. The Perfect Failure. Xlibris Corporation. 2012.
4 Ledwidge, Frank. Losing Small Wars. Yale University Press. 2011.
5 Sicard, Sarah. “Where each military branch stands on pronoun use in signature blocks.” Militarytimes.com 7 Jan 2022;
6 Myers, Meghann, et al. “The vast majority of troops kicked out for vaccine refusal received general discharges.” Militarytimes.com 27 Apr 2022,
7 Joyella, Mark. “CNN’s Clarise Ward in Afghanistan: ‘If This Isn’t Failure, What Does Failure Look Like Exactly?’” Forbes.com 19 AUG 2021.