I'm sure most of my readers are familiar with the nastiness surrounding 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone, who posed in uniform for pro-Communist photographs and disrespected the Secretary of Defense and others on his social media accounts.
An open letter by retired LtCol Robert M. Heffington, a former lecturer at the US Military Academy at West Point, paints a grim picture of the institution.
... during my time on the West Point faculty (2006–2009 and again from 2013–2017), I personally witnessed a series of fundamental changes at West Point that have eroded it to the point where I question whether the institution should even remain open.
. . .
First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent. They exist on paper, but nowhere else. The senior administration at West Point inexplicably refuses to enforce West Point’s publicly touted high standards on cadets, and, having picked up on this, cadets refuse to enforce standards on each other. The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline. The end result is a sort of malaise that pervades the entire institution. Nothing matters anymore. Cadets know this, and it has given rise to a level of cadet arrogance and entitlement the likes of which West Point has never seen in its history.
Every fall, the Superintendent addresses the staff and faculty and lies. He repeatedly states that “We are going to have winning sports teams without compromising our standards,” and everyone in Robinson Auditorium knows he is lying because we routinely admit athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens across the board. I have personally taught cadets who are borderline illiterate and cannot read simple passages from the assigned textbooks. It is disheartening when the institution’s most senior leader openly lies to his own faculty — and they all know it. The cadet honor code has become a laughingstock. Cadets know they will not be separated for violating it, and thus they do so on a daily basis. Moreover, since they refuse to enforce standards on each other and police their own ranks, cadets will rarely find a cadet at an honor hearing despite overwhelming evidence that a violation has occurred.
. . .
Academic standards are also nonexistent. I believe this trend started approximately ten years ago, and it has continued to get worse. West Point has stated standards for academic expectations and performance, but they are ignored. Cadets routinely fail multiple classes and they are not separated at the end-of-semester Academic Boards. Their professors recommend “Definitely Separate,” but those recommendations are totally disregarded.
. . .
Even the curriculum itself has suffered. The plebe American History course has been revamped to focus completely on race and on the narrative that America is founded solely on a history of racial oppression. Cadets derisively call it the “I Hate America Course.” Simultaneously, the plebe International History course now focuses on gender to the exclusion of many other important themes.
. . .
Conduct and disciplinary standards are in perhaps the worst shape of all. Cadets are jaded, cynical, arrogant, and entitled. They routinely talk back to and snap at their instructors (military and civilian alike), challenge authority, and openly refuse to follow regulations.
There's much more at the link.
If LtCol. Heffington's allegations are true, then they serve as a public indictment and condemnation of every Superintendent and senior administrator at West Point for at least the last generation or so. Such problems don't arise overnight - they develop slowly, one mistake or lapse building on another until the whole edifice is rotten to the core.
I presume that by now, Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of the Army McCarthy are aware of LtCol. Heffington's open letter. I further presume that they're investigating the entire Rapone affair, and trying to figure out how to solve the problems it's exposed. I wish them the best of luck in that endeavor . . . and I hope and trust their efforts will result in speedy reforms, including the removal of any and every officer, administrator and lecturer who contributed to the current, seemingly poisonous atmosphere at West Point. If LtCol. Heffington is correct, it can only be described as inimical to good order and discipline, and a potentially fatal weakness for any fighting service. How can it fight and win if its leaders are educated and formed in such an environment?
Finally, one hopes that the other US service academies will also be checked out, to make sure that none of the problems identified at West Point exist there, too. If they do, they'll have to be dealt with just as speedily and just as severely.