Since its founding in 1802, West Point has been the leading source of commissioned soldiers and top-notch leaders for the US military. It is one of the hardest schools to get into in America, and it offers a vigorous curriculum of academics, military strategy and physical training. The school’s results are proven by the fact that some of the highest positions in the US military, past and present, are held by West Point graduates; but is this type of training the most efficient and cost effective? Avid military types and West Point graduates that are proud of their education would call this question “heresy” while some progressive types might think it’s time to move away from this type of training. Tom Ricks, the Washington Post’s military correspondent responsible for the article “Why We Should Get Rid of West Point,” would say “no” to that question because he doesn’t believe in the foundation that West Point, or any of the other military institutions are founded on. Rick’s claim is that eliminating these academies, West Point (Army), Annapolis (Navy), and the Air Force Academy, will save the country money that could be put into more ROTC scholarships that develop the same quality leaders. He also supports ROTC education by playing off the faults of West Point such as their lack of educators with doctorates and the cynical approach to training. An approach that makes a cadet into a neat freak for four years with uniform, grooming, room standards, that doesn’t make someone into a better leader. Ricks puts forth some solid arguments, but he is only one side of the coin in this debate. Three West Point Graduates and past/current US congressman, Geoff Davis, Brett Guthrie, and John Shimkus tell the other side of this argument in a direct response entitled “Why We Should Keep West Point.” The focus of this article is to fend off the claims and assertions made by Ricks, while at the same time illustrating what sets West Point apart from any other Military institution and source of commission in America. As a current ROTC cadet on scholarship and a past and current applicant to West Point, I agree with parts of both sides of this argument. Eliminating West Point, one of the most prestigious secondary education institutions in the US and offering those cadets ROTC scholarships would save the government money and it would develop the same quality leaders that the US army had before, as Ricks states. However, I do not agree with his stance on the type of training West Point offers; which leads me to agree with the USMA Graduates on this topic. I also believe that West Point is valuable in the way it accepts and denies students admission. This is due to a personal experience I had when going through the USMA admission process. What is the cost to put a student through West Point? Ricks presents statistics that it cost more than twice as much to get a cadet to commission at West Point ($300,000) than it does through an ROTC scholarship ($130,000). That is the price to get one cadet to graduate and join the army as a 2nd LT (Officer). The government is willingly paying twice as much to get the same result? It sounds like they are throwing money out the window, but it’s not a waste of money because West Point grads are better than ROTC grads, right? Wrong, and that is one of the problems Ricks sees in the West Point system. West Point graduates are no better ROTC graduates because they get equal educations and enough training to lead a Platoon once they graduate. Some, not all, of the grads have this sense of entitlement because they graduated West Point and that’s why “some commanders say that they prefer officers who come out of ROTC programs because they tend to be better educated and less cynical about the military.” A graduate of West Point is no better than a graduate of an ROTC program because they are both going to be 2nd LT’s, and in the army your rank is what people see, not where the rank came from. The other side of the argument from the Congressmen/USMA graduates refutes Rick’s claim on the West Point educators. The Reps insist “The men and women of West Point are given the unique opportunity to learn from civilian faculty with doctorates and active duty service members with advanced degrees and military experience. Thus, West Point graduates are educated by instructors with knowledge of their academic field and the battlefield.” This combination of teaching from civilian faculty as well as officers with real world experience in their field adds a factor that is essential to both of these commissioning sources. An ROTC cadet receives training in their major from member of the schools civilian faculty, and only the military curriculum is taught by Military Staff at that school, like the West Point cadets. Both institutions offer training from officers with real military experience, which enables cadets to get the real picture of what’s going on in the real world. West Point isn’t better than ROTC in this category, which makes me disagree with Rick’s stance that West Point Cadets don’t get the same quality education from a diverse staff as ROTC cadets. That education system is an advantage for students that get accepted into West Point, but there can also be value for a cadet to be denied from West Point. The only reason I know that this denial is of value is because it happened to me. Early in my junior year of high school I decided I wanted to join the military and apply to West Point. For the Next year I went through the entire application and nomination process, which brought me to September of my senior year. To make my application stronger I tried to show the school I was solid in my intent of joining the military. To accomplish this, I was advised to apply for an ROTC scholarship as a “back-up” plan if I didn’t make it into West Point. It was my dedication to the goal of getting accepted to USMA that led me to that scholarship, and when I didn’t get my bid into West Point I had that scholarship waiting for me. I shot for the stars, only I landed a little bit lower. My point is that ROTC scholarships offer students who have the drive to become an officer - an equal alternative because not everyone who wants to be an officer can get into West Point. It’s that drive that also pushes them to reapply. There’s no doubt that West Point is one of the most prestigious colleges in America, up there with Harvard, MIT and Annapolis, and it’s that prestige that lures students into the system, but the question is: should we keep West Point? Ricks would say a definite “no” based on his beliefs and statistics on the cost of training a cadet, and the type of cynical officer that West Point produces. The Congressmen Geoff Davis, Brett Guthrie, and John Shimkus would never dream of eliminating such a important and historic institution based on the fact that West Point develops and produces “the top tier of our nation’s future military, science, business, and political leaders.” Although I believe that West Point is a more costly system, not all graduates are cynical as Ricks asserts, and the cost of the system is worth it for the government. West Point is an institution that students and even the enlisted can strive for, and the system is designed to push students away from complacency so they can make it to the top. America’s cadets need this to drive them to be the best. America’s future leaders need West Point. Works Cited Reed, John T. "West Point versus Other Sources of Commission." Weblog post. West Point versus Other Sources of Commission. John T Reed, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. Ricks, Tom. "Tom Ricks--Why We Should Get Rid of West Point." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2009. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. Roe, Karen. “ROTC: ’Leadership Experienced.’.” Army Communicator 34.1(2009); 12-13. Military & Government Collection. Web 19 Mar.2014. Shimkus, John, Geoff Davis, and Brett Guthrie. "Why We Should Keep West Point." Congressman John Shimkus. N.p., 9 May 2009. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. Winerip, Michael. "The R.O.T.C. Dilemma." The New York Times. The New York Times, 31 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.