Afew years ago after my 30-year reunion at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I wrote several articles regarding the changes at our nation’s service academies — changes not for the better. One couldn’t help but be shocked by the lack of discipline, the lowering of standards, and the destruction of traditions that had held officer trainees in good standing for decades, if not centuries.
The situation has not gotten any better, and, in many ways, it is getting worse.
Hundreds of cadets and graduates reached out, agreeing with my critique. Many wrote clandestinely, including current cadets who were afraid of retribution from our military’s leadership.
It’s not just the griping of an aging alumni. The quality of the men and women our service academies graduate has a direct impact on our national security, every bit as much as the quality of our weapons or the strength of our industrial base.
For a long-ago graduate, the removal of training for “attention to detail” is the most shocking thing one encounters.
As freshman or “Doolies,” we learned that the purpose of instruction at the Air Force Academy was to “lay the foundation early in the cadet’s career for the development of those qualities of character and discipline which will be expected of an officer. These qualities must be so deeply instilled that no stress or strain will erase them.”
This was a set of skills forged in fire during a year of extreme stress and pressure, a critical time in which a young teenager was transformed into a man or woman capable of leading troops in battle, handling complex tasks efficiently, and dealing with massive levels of responsibility.
Today, our academies have become essentially UCLA in uniforms. The discipline is gone, possibly irrevocably.
In addition, the academies are well on their way to “feminizing” the institutions. They routinely advertise a higher and higher percentages of female enrollment. Why? Is the goal a perfectly balanced, 50/50 military? Will that outcome better our chances of winning wars?
Sadly, it will not. Men are simply stronger than women. That is not discrimination or misogynistic; it is a fact. The admission of more and more women has led to a reduction in physical and mental standards, which leads to a reduction in the quality of soldiers in the field. Yes, women can and do serve admirably in our military, but they are not as effective in many front-line positions. That is also simply a fact.
Many warned of this outcome when women were first admitted to the service academies. Now it is coming to pass.
Even more worrisome, our academies have become petri dishes for the social justice agenda, not training real warriors. Race is highlighted constantly, which is incredibly divisive and detrimental to unit cohesion and effectiveness. Lowering standards for one ethnic group against another to push an agenda of societal change is unacceptable for those on the battlefield who depend on each other and must trust each other completely.
Social justice is not a military function. Training social justice warriors is not what our military academies should be doing.
You may believe that none of this affects military operations. The recent evidence suggests otherwise.
Two U.S. Navy ships recently collided with civilian vessels recently in the Pacific, accidents clearly tied to a lack of attention to detail. I don’t know if service academy grads were involved, but a lack of accountability for underperformance is rampant in our armed forces. How can you have accountability on the battlefield when you don’t instill this quality in the future leaders of our military?
These problems can be fixed, but we have to get back to simple common sense and away from the politically correct cancer which has infected our nation over the last few decades. It has no place in our service academies, where discipline, sacrifice and respect for authority are critical to success.
As Napoleon so famously said, “Victory on the battlefield begins with the shine on a boot.”
⦁ L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.
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