Why we should get rid of West Point...

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by packermatt7, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom 10-Year Member

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    hehe, Tom Ricks is at it again....... :wink:
    He also wrote "The Gamble".

    A coherent logical discussion would be a refreshing change of pace for this forum.
    I don't happen to agree with Tom Ricks all the time but he and many others have the right to state his views. He does appear to be misguided on a few points.
    Don't blame the Washington Post for his opinions.

    What we need to look at is not the subject of closing the SA's but his reasons. Rick's claims that ROTC officers are just as competent as SA grads. Of course all ROTC officer believe this an Academy grads think it's bunk.

    Is he proposing the Sandhurst model?

    Another intersesting proposal..... he needs to explain this further. yes Petraeus earned his PhD at Princeton but the vast majority of officers aren't going to Princeton. Petraeus is the cream of the crop. He also apparently forgot that it was Peraeus' education at West Point that made his Princeton PhD possible. You go Tom!

    IMO - the best reason for keeping the SA's is not the quality of education they provide but the opportunity they provide. They provide an opportunity for qualifed well deserving kids - some of whom would not be in college - a chance to serve in the officer corps. They are America's academies for American young adults. Open and available to all.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2009
  2. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom 10-Year Member

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    About the SA education lacking "rigor"....

    It is often said that the hardest part about Harvard is getting in.....
    I would like to offer that in many cases the easiest part of an SA education is getting in..
     
  3. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom 10-Year Member

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    My final word - I am reading the comments posted to the op-ed. Some are down right funny! Go read them!
     
  4. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited 10-Year Member

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    although I don't think he advocates closing WP this '68 grad has some interesting comments and perspective about the school, the army and whether a person should attend or not..
    http://www.johntreed.com/gotousma.html
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    I don't blame the Washington Post because of Ricks, I blame the Washington Post, because of the Washington Post.
     
  6. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom 10-Year Member

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    Which is completely off topic and had ZERO to do with the opinions of Tom Ricks.


    Peskemom - if you are out there, I believe I read a response written by your lovely daughter on another blog today.......
    pm me if you haven't seen it.

    deepdraft1 - It's not to hard to figure out that over the years, not every SA grad had the "perfect" experience or career, whatever that is. Some come out darn right cynical and carry it with them for the rest of their lives.
    Most of John Treed's "problems" with West Point are not even an issue at the West Point of today. His experience and information is old and quite dated.
     
  7. Maximus

    Maximus 5-Year Member

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    I just spent the better part of an hour reading the John Treeds page and I think you hit it on the head Just A Mom, he's bitter over his personal experiences and has an ax to grind.
     
  8. packermatt7

    packermatt7 5-Year Member

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    There is a reason why newspapers are failing.

    I'd love to read his live chat, though. It would be interesting to see the context for his arguments.
     
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    luigi; I wish I had been here today to jump in on your response. I just got back from dropping my son off at the academy. He came home for the weekend. (There is SOMETHING to be said about living 2 hours aways).

    The others already responded for me. Oh well. I am quite passionate with my comments. While I am usually the eternal optimist, I do usually play devil's advocate in many posts. I try and bring about both sides of a discussion. But this guy's commentary was just out in left field. I'm not sure if he's speaking out of emotion or just trying to be an "Arm chair Quarterback". But it's quite possible that his perspective is simply from that of being inside of a bubble. I am not a big fan of "Embedded Reporters". And just because he may have spent some time in the field, doesn't mean he understands any of it. This is a very common problem with many teachers in High School and College. Everything they teach comes from a book and sometimes it's simple theory. You can tell the better teachers. They're usually the ones that spent quite a number of years WORKING in the REAL WORLD before they started teaching. I really don't know this guy's perspective. But obviously if he thinks the education level of an academy is equal to a Community College; and that the academies; ROTC, and OTS all produce the same officers; then he really needs to "Just say No" to drugs.
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    And is in response to your statement "Don't blame the Washington Post comment" which was as on topic as my comment.


    Truth be told, he may be walking around in combat zones, and he may be shot at in Afghanistan, but that doesn't put him any closer to West Point, NY. Has the question come up before, "why spend more on a service academy midshipman or cadet that an ROTC one"? Yes. Are there bad officers out there that graduated from USCGA, USMMA, USMA, USNA or USAFA? Yes. Are there good officers from those service academies? Yes.

    Blaming the Post has MUCH more to do with what that rag of a newspaper publishes, and how it covers stories, and that feeling has existed far longer than this editorial has existed.

    Some of his comments DO apply to today. There is a negative "stigma" around "Ring Knockers" in all of the services. While not every future butterbar has earned it, those few "bad apples" ruin it for the rest. West Point isn't an exception to the rule. "He's academy" or "Wait, you're an academy grad, I didn't see that one", can be heard from time to time. This doesn't just happen with one academy, or one service though. While he's talking about West Point, he's really "covering" the entire federal service academy system.

    While I understand, JAM, that this must be hard for you, to disagree with my as you typically do, while not defending someone who wrote that these is no reason to waste $300,000 on the "Community College" education your child is getting, I hope you will soon understand that my dislike of the Washington Post has nothing to do with this article, and that I find this article "interesting" for a variety of reasons, all too complex for my own "community college" education.
     
  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 10-Year Member

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    We seem to be over generalizing about ROTC grads here too. I don't think ALL of them believe this at all. I believe many (and I won't say most because I don't know if it's true) think that a service academy is a ROUTE to receiving a commission, and that it wasn't the route for them. I had a good friend return from Iraq a month or two ago, I went to his wedding. He was an Army ROTC grad from Vanderbilt. He had friends in his wedding, from his unit who were West Point grads. Maybe West Point wasn't for him, but I would boil it down to "All ROTC grads think/All academy grads think".

    Also, federal service academies are not Open and available to all (see DADT thread).
     
  12. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom 10-Year Member

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  13. Zaphod

    Zaphod 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    I hope you're not surprised by this. After all, being totally clueless and beholden to the left end of the political spectrum (but I repeat myself) has been the basis for every job description within the mainstream media for 50 years now.

    As for wanting to help balance the budget and help the military, how about NOT slashing their budget in the first place, and then get rid of Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicair, which together comprise over half the bloated federal budget, which are demonstrable failures, and which do NOTHING to help the people they claim to help.

    Same goes for all these pathetic "bailouts".
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  14. Zaphod

    Zaphod 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    No joke.

    More than once I have deflated a young lad who, celebrating wildly about having gotten an appointment, suddenly heard me utter, "Well..... Now that you're done with the EASY part...."
     
  15. Zaphod

    Zaphod 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    That used to be true, but it certainly isn't any longer, and I'm NOT refering to such BS examples as politics.

    It used to be that finding any significant enlisted presence on a SA was rare, and where there was some, it wasn't enough to get to all corners of the Brigade, Corps, whatever. THAT DID lead to a certain isolation from the folks we were going to lead, and it played out badly sometimes when we hit the Fleet.

    I was thrilled beyond words when, back in the mid-1990's, USNA did a BIG turn on that and started bringing in enlisted folks to help teach the Mids. I can only assume the same is done at USAFA. I know it's done at USMA.
     
  16. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    I'm curious about some basic psychology 101. Let me preface this first by saying that this is NOT a "Dis" on ROTC. I personally know some officers that only wanted to go to ROTC. That is what they wanted. I also know some that received appointments to the academy, 2 AF, 1 WP, 1 Anap; who specifically turned it down because they preferred ROTC.

    But with the whole "ROTC Thinks this - Academy grads think this"; I'm curious about certain perspectives.

    1. I wonder how many who received an ROTC scholarship directly out of high school also applied to the academy but didn't receive an appointment?
    2. I wonder, (because of the natural individual pride people have in THEIR Team, school, etc...), how many of these ROTC grads had a change in attitude towards the academy being they didn't get an appointment and instead chose ROTC?

    Hopefully, most individuals who apply to the academy and don't receive an appointment, realize it is not because they aren't qualified; but that the academies can only take so many students each year. However; there are definitely some that will take not getting an appointment quite personal. We've also seen where a person applies to more than 1 academy; one is obviously their preferred #1 choice; but they don't get accepted there and instead to one of the others. You can see their perspective/attitude shift towards the one they received the appointment as being the BEST and relegating their original #1 to a lower status.

    These forums are definitely a unique place to visit. Those who attend are a totally different breed. Most here, who don't receive an appointment, stay motivated to apply again in June and/or to apply to ROTC. In the "REAL WORLD" however; being turned down for an academy appointment makes some people very cynical of the military. Many will never apply again. Many will never try for ROTC. These are obviously those who applied to the academy for the sole purpose of a free education. They "probably" would have made lousy officers who already knew they were going to do a "5 and Dive". And there are some who do receive their appointment that are also this way. Fortunately; most who apply and receive an appointment are willing to see how compatible they are with the military before they decide on a "5 and Dive".

    No, I don't know Tom Ricks. Maybe he has a personal perspective on the academies; specifically West Point. I also can't speak for every ROTC or Academy grad officer out there, but there's a lot of attitudes and perspectives of ROTC vs Academy. Some of it is resentment. Some is jealousy. Some is envy. And that goes in both directions. There's a lot of academy students who are envious of not having the college/private life that an ROTC student gets.

    But the truth is; the academy, ROTC, and OTS commissions and develops different types of officers with different perspectives and experiences. All 3 are important and contributes to a successful military. You already heard me say that it maintains balance. But if Ricks can't see this; and thinks the military is some plain vanilla envelope that clone officers from ROTC, academy, and OTS; then he's an idiot. But he must be, because he also assumes that EVERY college in the country is identical when it comes to ROTC. He must think that the Ivy League School student in ROTC in getting the same education (Secular and Military); that the student at the University of Wyoming is getting. I will be the first to say that the academies are probably NOT the #1 best education in the country. There are definitely some schools out there that have better academics. But I would put the 5 military academies up against all colleges in the country. And according the most educational reviews, the academies perform quite well. Top 10 in many categories. But I am curious of the perspective and attitude of an ROTC student/officer who originally applied to an academy but wasn't accepted. (Again, not dogging. And not discounting the many students who had the choice of an academy education and CHOSE ROTC). Just curious if being rejected from the academy could have a major change of attitude and respect for the academy. later... mike....
     
  17. sealion

    sealion 10-Year Member

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    That kind of internal friction among officers sounds alarming when considering the military and security threats facing our armed services and country.




    I have to point this out to my younger kids all the time...

    Saying something good about one entity doesn't not tacitly equal saying something bad about another entity. You can say good things about ROTC without it being a slam against SAs and you can say something good about SAs without it being a negative judgement on ROTC.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  18. bruno

    bruno 10-Year Member Retired Staff Member

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    An article from the Boston Globe in 2007 refers to retention statistics that should truly cause any thoughtful person to question the value of the investment that is made in SA graduates. If the number of $350,000 is an accurate cost to educate an Academy graduate and only 45% of them are even around 6 years after Graduation- what kind of return is that on the Army's investment? That retention rate is almost identical to ROTC - which costs the tax payer less than 1/3 the cost (and OCS is virtually no cost to the tax payer).
    The model of the 4 year Military Academy is not a universal one- The Brits don't and have never followed this path- nor do the Israeli's. For that matter- the USMC has historically not had a disproportionate number of USNA grads in its officer corps and seems to have fared ok relying on PLC; OCS and from the mid 70s forward ROTC. I don't agree with Ricks; but the "5 and Dive" phenomenon where a graduate resigns from Active Duty shortly after completion of his/her obligated service (which is not always 5 years in the case of Aviators or submariners for example) is something that truly calls into question the value of the Service Academies. Plenty of sea lawyers out there will now argue that those Grads did their obligated service and that's all they owed and they should feel no shame in going - but I would submit that is immaterial- if the institution has not inculcated the feeling of an obligation for long term service in its graduates then it has in large part failed. Anyone who loves the Army and West Point should be pretty alarmed by those kind of numbers.

    West Point Grads Exit Service at High Rate
    By Bryan Bender
    The Boston Globe

    Wednesday 11 April 2007
    ...."According to statistics compiled by West Point, of the 903 Army officers commissioned upon graduation in 2001, nearly 46 percent left the service last year - 35 percent at the conclusion of their five years of required service, and another 11 percent over the next six months. And more than 54 percent of the 935 graduates in the class of 2000 had left active duty by this January, the statistics show"
     
  19. hornetguy

    hornetguy 10-Year Member

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  20. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    It is not alarming; nor should it be a concern. I believe you are reading into it too much. Which is obviously my fault for not being clear with my comments.

    This is nothing more than a very healthy rivalry. The same rivalry the active duty has vs guard/reserve. The same rivalry Air Force has vs Army, Navy, CG, etc... This is normal.

    You call it friction; but there isn't friction. There will always be the "So and so has it easier than we do". "Ours is BETTER than theirs". This is normal and actually a very healthy attitude in esprit de corp and in team building. But I assure you 100%; that when out of training status, and in actual "Mission" situations; the respect is there. I can't explain it fully to my son at this point; NOR SHOULD I TRY. He needs to believe that the academy is the BEST!!! Just as each ROTC Det needs to believe THEY are the best. Same with guard, reserves, etc... But he will realize when he becomes active duty, the "True Roles" of the different branches of service; the different layers of the military; the different components (e.g. guard, reserve, JTF, etc...). Then, he will have the respect. In the sandbox, south america, central america, north africa, etc... I gained the respect of the Army, Navy, guard, reserve, etc... And as such, so will those in the academy, ROTC, etc...

    So please, don't read my previous post as though there is some animosity or friction between the elements. There isn't. But at the same time, realize that the military isn't some feel good, can't we all just get along, bunny hugging organization. The military is an entity that requires patriotism, pride, egotism, a certain amount of contempt, and even a bit of arrogance. Without it, the men and women wouldn't be able to do what we ask of them. They know deep down inside, that they are reading to give their lives and die for the rest of their country. The average citizen in the country is NOT WILLING to do that. And you wouldn't be willing to do such a thing without a certain amount of "attitude". But trust me; the respect is there. And it isn't totally there WHILE in college or WHILE at the academy. But it does develop once they are in the "Real" military. later... mike....