BOOM! - Ahhh
U.S.M.A. Rah! Rah!
U.S.M.A. Rah! Rah!
Team! Team! Team!
Anyone who attends an Army football game will hear this spirited cheer amongst the Corps of Cadets, West Point’s faculty, and graduates. It captures a bit of the allure and excitement of one of West Point’s oldest and most famous sports teams. Through the years, Army football has captured three national titles (1944, 1945, 1946) and three Heisman Trophy winners (Doc Blanchard 1945, Glenn Davis 1946, and Pete Dawkins (1958). The legendary Army-Navy football game captures the attention of the US military and public. In 2022, 6.9 million tuned in to watch the matchup.
West Point is poised to spend $145 Million to renovate and modernize its historic Michie Stadium for the Black Knights. The www.westpoint.edu website opens up to a repeating montage of cadet life that starts with multiple clips of the Army football team. Army football alums include such historical giants as General/President Dwight Eisenhower, General Omar Bradley, General Matthew Ridgeway, and General Creighton Abrams. The last three superintendents of West Point played for Army’s football team as cadets – LTG (Retired) Robert Caslen, GEN Darryl Williams, and LTG Steven Gilland. Clearly, Army football factors heavily into the modern West Point image.
In academia, 102 West Point graduates have won prestigious Rhodes Scholarships since the award was first given in 1902. USMA ranks among the top 10 for all time Marshall Scholars. Its graduates also routinely compete and win many other famous graduate scholarships.
West Point’s home page opens with impressive stats:
28 Research Centers
36 Majors to Choose From
$53K Salary upon gradua
7:1 Student to faculty ratio
100% Job placement after graduation
At any other school, these would be fine statistics to brag about. The problem is that the M in USMA stands for MILITARY. The raison d’etre for West Point to exist is to win wars and provide graduates to the US Army to achieve that end. Interestingly, nowhere on West Point’s home page is there a mention of winning wars. The closest theme is in the “Military Leadership” block that states that “Cadets are inspired to make a commitment to national service.” While touching, this could equally apply to the Peace Corps and the Salvation Army (no offense to these two noble pursuits). While earning scholarships and excelling in sports is admirable, it should not be the sole source of pride of USMA as it has no recent major wars won by graduates it can point to.
At the 2023 Tampa West Point Founder’s Day Dinner, LTG (Retired) Caslen gave the keynote address. After stating, “For those who thought West Point is not what it used to be, or has gone Woke – or whatever you call it – nevertheless, there are some pretty impressive things going on and coming out of there.” Later he remarked, “As a matter of fact, West Point hit an all-time record with last year’s firstie class of 4 Rhodes Scholars! This is an incredible accomplishment. And besides these 4 Rhodes, there were an additional 48 scholarships.”[i]
Sadly, LTG (Retired) Caslen had no recent military victories led by USMA grads to brag about. The generals at the helm of the recent trainwreck known at Afghanistan featured such West Point graduates as GEN (Retired) Lloyd Austin, GEN (Retired) David Petraeus, GEN (Retired) Scott Miller, and GEN (Retired) Stanley McChrystal. The United States Army hasn’t won a major war in 78 years. Modern West Point, led by LTG Steven Gilland, appears to have its focus on DEI, tribalism, and Army Football. It is clearly failing at its only reason for existence.
In his famous 1962 farewell address to the Corps of Cadets, General Douglas MacArthur warned:
“And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable – it is to win our wars. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication. All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishment; but you are the ones who are trained to fight: yours is the profession of arms – the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed.”
Future generations of military historians will surely examine the record of the US military and its leaders from WW2 to the present. Undoubtedly, their analysis will not be kind. At any given time in history, no one cares how many sporting events, checkers games, spelling bees, or other non-military pursuits a country’s military academy wins. What matters is can its MILITARY academy graduates win wars?
John Hughes, MD, (www.americandoctor.org) is the author of American Doctor – Coming Home to War and a writer on medical and military matters. He is a 1996 West Point graduate, veteran of Haiti/Iraq/Afghanistan, and is a practicing Emergency Physician. He is a contributor to CDMedia and Armed Forces Press, has been featured in Real Clear Defense, Washington Examiner, and American Thinker, and has been a medical expert for Epoch Times. He is a leader in the MacArthur Society of West Point Graduates and a member of STARRS.US.
This letter is the opinion of the author and does not represent the stance of any organizations or corporations.