In January 2021, the Daily Caller reported that West Point was launching an investigation into allegations that CSM Michael J. Coffey, who was the USMA Command Sergeant Major at the time, violated UCMJ.1 The reports indicated that a Twitter account with the handle @mjcoff02 going by “Michael J” posted tweets critical of and in some cases blatantly disrespectful to President Trump. After the 2020 election, in a response to a tweet from Kamala Harris after she and Biden won the 2020 election, @mjcoff02 tweeted:
“As a service member with 28 years active duty and multiple combat deployments, I spent every day wondering what my Commander in Chief would do to me and my unit. I have not slept well for the last 4 years. I’m sleeping soundly tonight.”
A twitter user engaged in a back and forth conversation online with the owner of @mjcoff02 and got him to identify himself as the former command sergeant major of the 3rd Infantry Division and also as the current West Point senior enlisted advisor. Soon after, @mjcoff02 deleted the Twitter account. However, before it was deleted, other users found tweets critical of Senator Ted Cruz (Texas), Congressman Jim Jordan (Ohio), and then White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Other @mjcoff02 tweets said Trump should be featured next to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei. When questioned by the Daily Caller, Army Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Military Academy said:
“West Point takes all allegations of impropriety seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation into this matter.”2
Coffey had assumed the position at West Point in 2020. During his assumption of responsibility ceremony, he was quoted as saying, “I believe in doing the right things the right way.” His prior job before coming to West Point was serving as the Command Sergeant Major of the 3rd Infantry Division at Ft Stewart, Georgia. He enlisted in 1994 so he had served for 27-28 years at the time of the alleged tweets.
West Point released no further information concerning their investigation. Consequently, In June 2022, I contacted Ophardt’s West Point PAO office via email to obtain information on the results of the said investigation and never got a reply. Recently, on 31 March 2023, Command Sergeant Major Phil K. Barretto took over as senior enlisted advisor for USMA from CSM Coffey. At the ceremony presided over by LTG Gilland, CSM Coffey thanked the academy staff for “allowing [him] to be a part of the team and trusting [him] to be a part of the vast experiences…and for being part, in some small way, of the constant pursuit of character development.”3
Article 134 of UCMJ provides: Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.
Typically, Article 134 is used to investigate and prosecute enlisted personnel found being disrespectful towards civilian leaders and superiors. Maybe Coffey posted these tweets, maybe he didn’t. It would seem intuitive that if the twitter account wasn’t his (malicious or false account) that USMA would want to clear the air to exonerate their CSM. Instead, West Point’s refusal to announce follow-ups or answer questions from concerned citizens and grads shows further concerns for transparency and leads to distrust of USMA’s leadership.
Cadets are made to memorize 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.”
If the twitter account actually belonged to CSM Coffey the obvious question is why did USMA not punish him and worse allow him to remain visible as a role model for cadets as the senior enlisted advisor of USMA? Cadets are taught to be objective with discipline. Why was he allowed to serve in a position of such responsibility and visibility for over 2 more years until his retirement? No matter how nice CSM Coffey was, he should have faced consequences for his alleged reckless and belligerent actions if they were true. Worse, the academy could be confirming suspicions by a growing chorus of analysts that USMA is becoming politicized. If the tweets were Coffey’s and they were overlooked or condoned because they were anti-Trump, is USMA signaling violating UCMJ is ok if it is with the ‘correct’ political intent? If this is true, then West Point is becoming no more than the schoolhouse for the military arm of the new political force in power in America.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Class of 1996
Veteran of OIF/OEF
Co-chair of www.americanism24.org (a registered superpac)
SO THE SMAJ WOULD RATHER GET HIS ASS DEPLOYED TO SYRIA OR MOHGADISHU THAN STAY HERE IN THE STATES AND RETIRE??? INSTEAD HE TRASHES POUTUS TRUMP FOR TRYING TO KEEP US OUT OF SENDING OUR FOLKS OVERSEAS TO DIE AND BE CRIPPLED FIGHTING FOR SOME MILITARY/INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX SCUMBAGS. GOOD THING HE RETIRED HE WAS JUST ANOTHER POLITICAL HACK COMPIMISED BY THE COMMUNIST RUN DEMOCRAT PARTY, GOOD RIDDANCE SMAJ, MAYBE HE GOT A JOB WORKING AT SOME ANTI AMERICAN LOBBY GROUP IN DC OR A CHICOM COMPANY.