(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 167 pages of records from the U.S. Department of Defense which show the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) has made race and gender instruction a top priority in the training of cadets.
The records include recommendations that the USAFA considers “Behavioral Science 362, ‘Class, Race, Gender, and Sexuality’ as a core class,” that all curriculum be reviewed for “D&I” (diversity and inclusion) topics, and that all cadets and staff be educated in “specific D&I concepts and skills in order to decrease incidents of microaggressions, unconscious bias, etc.”
Judicial Watch obtained the records in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services, Inc. (STARRS) against the U.S. Department of Defense for Air Force Academy records regarding “systemic racism,” as well as records of critical race theory at the Academy (Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services, Inc. v U.S. Department of Defense(No. 1:22-cv–02894))...
To read more visit Judicial Watch.
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Republican Reps. Michael Waltz of Florida and Jim Banks of Indiana demanded answers from West Point regarding the school’s role-play exercise for cadets on "respecting the pronouns people prefer."
Fox News Digital exclusively obtained Waltz’s and Banks’ Tuesday letter to West Point superintendent Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland regarding a leaked "facilitator guide" for role-play exercises involving academy cadets.
The exercises are meant to serve as training "for Cadets to gain competence in their bystander intervention skills" — including when someone disagrees with the progressive pronoun orthodoxy...
To read more visit Fox News.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy lifted a lingering vaccine mandate on Friday, days after a scathing letter called for its repeal.
The USMMA in King Point, New York, had been demanding that all incoming students take the vaccine and was not permitting either religious or medical exemptions, according to the New York Post.
The Department of Defense's military academies lifted all vaccine requirements in January following pressure from Republicans through the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, but the USMMA is run by the U.S. Maritime Administration under the Department of Transportation (DOT)...
To read more visit Fox News.
uring oral argument in the college admissions racial preferences cases (Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard/UNC), Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts inquired of United States Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar whether the service academies should “rise or fall” with the court’s ruling regarding Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The solicitor general, joined by the Department of Defense (DOD) general counsel, had claimed in briefing that the continued use of racial preferences at the service academies is a “national security imperative,” prompting the question.
The chief justice asked, effectively, whether DOD seeks an exemption for the military from any ruling against Harvard and UNC banning racial preferences’ further use. Prelogar’s replies fell short of asking for a military carveout, but she left the door open, reiterating the military’s alleged “distinctive interests” in using racial preferences and her claims that they are a “truly compelling interest” and “critically important” for the military.
Not addressed in rebuttal arguments were the reasons why there is no compelling national security imperative and how racial preferences are harming our military...
To read more visit The Federalist.
ArmedForces.Press/CDM.press and Conservative Daily/FEC UNITED are pleased to sponsor an American Conversation discussing 'The Assault On Our Children/Armed Forces' on March 24, 2023 in Colorado Springs, CO.
Doors open at 5:45pm MT
3337 N Academy Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO 80917
Event Sponsored by Stony Lonesome Group - Mission Focused Investing
Substantial Decrease In Military Readiness
Compromised Military Leadership
Exponential Increase in Youth Deaths from Fentanyl
Alarming Increase in Suicides of Young Soldiers
Decrease in Mastery of Basic Skills Due To Critical Race Theory
Deadly Vaccine mandates
That is the Question our Panelists Will Be Asking of Each Other and the Audience
Moderator– Christine Dolan, Chief Investigative Correspondent, CDMedia, Senior Editor
Christine Dolan is a seasoned Investigative Journalist, television producer, author, and photographer. She is Co-Founder of American Conversations whose format focuses on in-depth analysis of critical issues about “the story behind the headlines.” She is considered a global expert in human trafficking.
John Tiegan - John “Tig” Tiegen was one of a handful of warriors that kept the September 11 2012 attacks on the US Consulate and CIA Annex in Benghazi from turning into another “Alamo”.
Dr. Ryan Cole - A pathologist who has been out in front discussing Covid-19 mRNA vaccine consequences, like turbo cancers
Dr. Steve Holt - Founding Pastor-Teacher of The Road @ Chapel Hills
L Todd Wood - USAFA 86, Founder CDMedia
Dr. Ron Scott - President of STARRS.us
Jim Zietlow - USAFA 87, United Airlines pilot currently in litigation against United over vaccine mandate
DoD Whistleblower - To be named before event
Reversal comes as Congress considers bill seeking redress for military's discharged vaccine refuseniks.
The United States Military Academy is reimposing restrictions on unvaccinated cadets despite the lifting of the military's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, reports military attorney R. Davis Younts, a reversal that comes even as Congress mulls legislation seeking redress for service members dismissed for vaccine refusal.
The Department of Defense rescinded the military vaccine mandate pursuant to the Dec. 23 enactment of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a measure repealing the mandate.
During the height of the pandemic, West Point implemented a policy prohibiting cadets from traveling for sports or other events, according to Younts. After the vaccine was made available, only unvaccinated cadets were restricted from traveling. Then, last semester, while the military vaccine mandate was still in place, West Point dropped the policy, allowing unvaccinated cadets to travel for sports, the Army-Navy game, and other events...
To read more visit Just The News.
At the age of thirty-five Dr. Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize, making him the youngest recipient in its history. Over a thousand streets around the world are named for him, and he is acknowledged by one poll as the sixth most famous person in history. But King's message of forgiveness, non-violence, reconciliation, and self-worth based on character rather than phenotype are under assault by the proponents of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and identity politics.
Recently on Martin Luther King Day, politicians and the media grandstanded and payed homage to Dr. King, all the while, during the other 364 days of the year, undermining his legacy and promoting the divisive tripe of Ibram Kendi and Kimberly Crenshaw, who preach division, victimhood, and irreconcilable racial oppression. Kendi has made a career out of one word, "anti-racism," for which he alone controls the definition. In academic circles this guaranteed his unassailable academic credentials and prompted a host of influential leaders, including the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, to add Kendi's book, How to Be an Antiracist, to the Navy's Professional Reading Program.
Kendi, who proclaimed, "Assimilation ideas are racist ideas," understands the power of language and the need to control every nuance of every word's meaning. His philosophic mentor and one of the founders of Critical Race Theory, Richard Delgado, devotes the last third of the book, Critical Race Theory,to the approved definitions of words and phrases. Words are weapons deployed against philosophical adversaries to deny them the ability to effectively communicate.
The Department of Defense abandoned Dr. King’s dream, when it imposed a culture imbued with mistrust and unyielding individualism based on racial and sexual identity. The vilification of the term “colorblind” serves as a metaphor for this radical departure from cohesiveness and mutual trust that is essential for mission readiness. The source of this illogical realignment of priorities emanates from CRT. Delgado speaks of the perversity of colorblindness and Kendi avers that colorblindness equates with racism.
All of the United States military academies have come under scrutiny for eschewing their traditional role to painstakingly avoid political involvement by implementing intensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs and teaching CRT as legitimate political alternative rather than extension of Critical Theory and post modernism.
Recently, Lt. General Richard Clark, the Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) participated in a three part interview, where he addressed the controversial emphasis of DEI at USAFA and the publicity surrounding a preferred language tutorial that instructed cadets how to speak in accordance with DEI recommendations.
General Clark framed DEI as merely a tool to facilitate communication in an ever changing world. His portrayal of the program rests in sharp contrast with the Academy's DEI Plan that was established under Executive Order 13583 that impacts virtually every aspect of the USAFA training environment and has led some to conclude that DEI is a Trojan Horse for quotas and the inculcation of CRT into the heart of USAFA's academic program.
General Clark categorically supports DEI. Without citing specific evidence he alluded to numerous studies, most of which were conducted in the financial services industry that reported improved profitability due to inputs based on demographic diversity. It has yet to be proven whether this conclusion applies to a military environment, but this contention remained unchallenged. As with all all three parts of the interview, the interviewer’s role appeared to be the delivery of softball questions and readily agreeing with the general’s perspective.
In no portion of the interviews did General Clark acknowledge Dr. King's contributions to the military's longstanding policy of nondiscrimination, nor did he distance himself from the detrimental influence of Kendi and his allies whose misplaced activism have destroyed decades of progress in racial relations. Rather, he reminded listeners that times are changing and implied that DEI, an offshoot of theories promulgated by frustrated Marxists from the Frankfurt School, serves as the key to teaching a new generation of officers.
DEI, CRT, and the slew of accompanying critical theories are the products of fervent anti-capitalists academics who have gained a foothold into the fabric of American life. The utility of these doctrines are unproven and incongruent with a free, prosperous society. Rather than build on Dr. King's legacy, they distort it and use his reputation as a vehicle to delude and divide the public. If color blindness does not represent fairness and the anecdote to discrimination, then what's the reason for celebrating Martin Luther King Day?
Host L Todd Wood speaks with Attorneys Col Tom Rempfer (USAF, Ret) and Lt Col "Lou" Michaels (USAF, Ret) on developments with the military vaccine mandate, the consequences, and restoration of member careers.
This video is part of the series Information Operation.
A push to rename a very small portion of West Point and it’s facilities is a shameful attempt to distort and rewrite the history of the Long Gray Line. Robert E. Lee was the ninth superintendent of West Point from 1852-1855 who was responsible for strengthening the academic program and improving many of the facilities at the Academy. Robert E. Lee was a military genius, a great general, and field commander who graduated the academy second in his class with no demerits. He was a fierce warrior. Those are the qualities West Point cadets should emulate, not ignore or destroy due to the politics of the day.
West Point is an institution that should not focus on present or past political squabbles, but rather on its core mission of military tactics and leadership. It is up to civilian voices to discuss the politics of the day as Douglas MacArthur once said in his address to the Corps of Cadets in 1962. The study of Robert E. Lee and memorializations of him on academy grounds is conducive in inculcating the type of military competency and character we expect from our cadets and future military leaders.
Furthermore, President Eisenhower, who defeated the Nazis, kept a picture of Lee in the Oval Office. His reasoning was that he felt Lee was
"...one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history. From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained."
The Civil War was West Point’s war in which both sides were commanded by West Point officers. It would be a disgrace for the institution to forget how closely tied it was to the war itself.
It is important to note that there would have been no Civil War but for the existence of slavery. However, that does not mean everyone who fought for the South did so because he was a devotee of the “peculiar institution” — let alone a slaveowner. Many Southerners like Lee fought because they believed their homeland was being invaded. Many thousands gave their lives to defend it. It is important to consider the mindset of those during the times. People are a product of the generation in which they lived. When Lee was offered command of the entire Federal Army by by Blair at Lincoln's bequest, he stated, “I can not draw my sword against my country...my family.” Lee looked upon Virginia as his country and when Virginia called upon him for their defense he answered the call. Lee’s decision to lead the Army of Northern Virginia was the most grueling decision he ever made. He couldn't take up arms against Virginia which was his home so he tendered his resignation from the Federal Army.
History is complex and complicated. It is up to us to deal with that complexity instead of taking the easy road of erasing it. Like it or not he is a graduate of the institution and should be studied for his military ingenuity. If removed, will memorializations of Washington and Jefferson, both slaveowners, whose names are commemorated in the mess hall and library, be next?
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
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) training material records on critical race theory (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Defense(No. 1:22-cv-03510)).
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Air Force Academy, a component of Department of Defense, failed to respond to an August 5, 2021, FOIA request for any and all PowerPoint presentations used for training and/or classroom instruction discussing critical race theory (CRT) and/or “white supremacy.” Judicial Watch also requested emails about this issue for Air Force Academy senior leadership.
“Marxist critical race theory and its racial division have no place at the Air Force Academy, which is training the next generations of Air Force leadership,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And, per usual, the scandal is compounded by the cover-up of records about the propaganda program abusing Air Force cadets.”
On September 23, 2022, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit on behalf of Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services, Inc. (STARRS) against the U.S. Department of Defense for Air Force Academy records regarding “systemic racism,” as well as records of critical race theory at the Academy.
Judicial Watch in July 2022 sued the U.S. Department of Defense for records related to the United States Naval Academy implementing critical race theory in the training of naval recruits.
In June, Judicial Watch received records revealing critical race theory instruction at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. One training slide contains a graphic titled “MODERN-DAY SLAVERY IN THE USA.” [Emphasis in original]
he U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in two cases challenging race-based affirmative action practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC). A group called Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) sued those civilian schools for discriminatory admission policies, but the high-stakes legal drama also involves the military.
Arguing for the Department of Defense, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar insisted (without evidence) that military officer corps diversity “is a critical national security imperative” and that “it’s not possible to achieve that diversity without race conscious admissions, including at the nation’s service academies.”
How did the military get roped into this legal debate?
To read more visit The Federalist.
Guest post by Lt Col Michael E. Uecker, USAF (Ret.)
As a proud graduate of the US Air Force Academy (Class of 1971), I feel compelled to share my thoughts on what has happened to our alma mater and suggest a course of action to reinstitute education and training that will emphasize that which unites us so as to make teamwork and leadership more successful. I hope it will also provide a reminder of what has made our Nation the most attractive goal for immigrants and refugees the world over.
Being at the leading edge of the Baby Boomers generation, I am old enough to remember the failures of the War on Poverty in the 1960s and the Stagflation of the 1970s, and I experienced the success of the boom of the 1980s. In each case, it was clear that the leadership of the Nation was critical to the direction we pursued and the results we achieved. It was also clear that central planning and high taxes did not work.
It is truly amazing how quickly the United States went from winning the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union under the leadership of President Ronald Reagan to being at each other's throats over pronouns and having half the Nation believing socialism works.
To me, it is evident that too many of my generation turned our collective backs on politics and decided to turn our swords into plowshares, minding our own business and allowing others to run things with the expectation that they would continue the course of policies that brought us peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, those we left in charge had other ideas.
Little did we know that the radicals of the '60s and '70s would become the tenured professors and department chairs in the '80s and '90s and turn their attention to teaching Howard Zinn (Marxist) history, Critical Theory sociology, and Saul Alinsky tactics with the goal of "fundamentally changing our society." They now dictate who gets tenure in colleges and universities and what is taught to future teachers at all levels.
At the same time, the Air Force Academy decided to replace active-duty officers on the faculty with these liberal professors. One wonders if that was just poor judgment or intentionally done with the goal of replacing military role models for the cadets with civilian intellectuals who never had to experience the horror of war, the art of leadership, or the reality of being wrong. Indeed, the daily contact with the military faculty left a deep impression on me of what it meant to be a career officer – at least as significant as the officers from the Commandant's staff.
So now we are faced with a new generation of cadets who are not taught that talent, hard work, integrity, and "content of their character" will enable them to be successful. How does one engender teamwork and unity when the seeds of distrust based on immutable characteristics are sown by the faculty? Having served with men and women warriors of all races, colors, and creeds, I can attest that the Air Force I served in was the closest thing to a pure meritocracy I have ever experienced.
I hope the leadership will spurn their current efforts to sow the seeds of distrust and destruction and return to pursuing the goal that "all men are created equal." Doing anything less is a clear violation of their oath to "protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic…"
Lt Colonel Mike Uecker is a 1971 graduate of USAFA who served 20 years on active duty. His duty assignments included eight years flying in the FB-111A and the B-52H, and the balance as a program manager in both aeronautical and space systems. Since retirement, he has worked in program management, information technology, operations, marketing and proposal development, and engineering in the defense industry. He has been active in local politics since 2009 and has served as a member of the local school board and the Republican Party.
By J.A. Cauthen
America, it would seem to some, is irredeemably racist, bigoted, and guided by hate. Those fighting against these pervasive evils have experienced a great “awokening” and are on a noble crusade to perfect American society by transforming its centers of power and influence. In doing so, many of our nation’s institutions are attempting to redefine what is acceptable thought, speech, and behavior by creating formal structures of control. Thus do they reprimand and publicly castigate the fallen.
The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), the nation’s premier institution through which future Navy and Marine Corps officers are educated and trained, has now embraced this ideology. Willing collaborators all too eager to appease their political masters are accomplishing this transformation through directives, policy, training, and the creation of new offices and positions staffed to advance the agenda of wokeness. Under a benign-sounding scheme known as “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI), wokeness is given a formal structure with the force to entrench itself. As emeritus professor John Ellis of UC Santa Cruz recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “These administrative divisions don’t merely act as gatekeepers; they also affect the speech and conduct inside [institutional] gates. DEI divisions are the driving force of cancel culture on campus, which limits the free inquiry that is essential to a university’s mission.”
The Navy’s “diversity” plan will erode the competency of future officers and imperil our national security.In early 2021, the Naval Academy published a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, a complementary compendium to its 2030 Strategic Plan. This vision, if achieved, will erode the competency of future officers and imperil our national security. Endorsed and signed by all senior Naval Academy leadership, from the superintendent to the academic dean and provost, the plan will set the tone and tenor of forthcoming DEI initiatives and programs, with enforcement centralized through the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI). Drafted and promulgated by ODEI, some of the published objectives and actions read like bygone Soviet and Maoist slogans. To describe these as troubling is charitable; pernicious and punitive are more apt descriptors.
Read the full piece at The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal here.
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
“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