If West Point is this bad, no wonder it graduated a Communist

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.



  1. YIPE.
    Professionalism is what stands between us and a coup. Take that away, and we're in a heap of trouble.
    With various factions apparently plotting insurrection, a professional military visibly loyal to the civic institutions is very much needed just now, if only as a deterrent.
    This report, on top of the Navy's recent lapses? I wonder just how far the rot has gone.
    And it sounds like it didn't start during the last Administration, either, though it may have accelerated.

  2. The service academies exist only as an extension of the Swamp. Congress has refused to shut down the USMMA (Merchant Marine Academy) even though the US Merchant Marine is shrinking. IIRC the last I heard was an annual cost to taxpayers of about $114 million a year… The institution exists only as a place where our congress critters can send their selected constituents kids for a government education. It is not surprising to me that this thinking has spread to all the service academies.

  3. In better times, a top commander would have to replace the entire command structure, and all the instructors, at the academy. But now? It's not clear whether there are any high-ranking officers with the personal integrity to take over.

  4. It's easily solved: walk in, and start dismissing people on the spot. If that means every swinging Richard, military and civilian, so be it.
    West Point contributes but a fraction of the Army's officers, annually, the bulk being ROTC grads.

    If it takes a year or two without a graduating class to get things on track, that's what you do.

    It a few hundred field and general grade officers have to be sacrificed to get there, the country and the Army is better off without them.

    Replace them, tac officers and instructors, 100% with service Academy ring-knockers (if necessary, borrow some from the other services until you can make it an all-Army show again), and instruct them that if they suffer the same shortcomings, they'll be awarded the same fate.
    And tell every cadet that until it's sorted out, they'll be required to do additional time, possibly one to two years, at the Point before graduation, until they are deemed worthy of commissioning, and having met the norms expected of commissioned officers.

    If there isn't any graduating class for a year or three, or only 7 or 8 graduates for a couple more after that, that's how you fix it: just like BUD/S.
    Some classes no one graduates.
    You only get standards if you keep them.

    Then you go find the academy grads who're already commissioned, and if they aren't at the top of their year group, and exemplary compared to the entire year pool, dismiss them too.

    Cull the rotten officers from the Army's barrel ruthlessly, to the last one.
    It would be but a minor personnel hiccup, and the blip would disappear in a few years.

  5. This is likely an effect of the last political administration, where politics became more important than service. However, all you have to do is look at military history to see what happens when this occurs. That committed communist officer? Um, no, because he is quite likely to betray his country for the sake of the "political struggle". Just like, oh, you know…Bradley "Chelsea" Manning, "Reality" Winner, etc. And those are just the ones we know about.

  6. Send HR Mccmaster up there as superintendent after he is done helping the president. Served with him in the same company as a fellow LT at Fort Hood. He will get the place right in one semester. Guaranteed.

  7. Failure to stomp on this now, with both feet, creates a widespread situation prejudicial to good order and discipline. These revelations tore the mask off the Army officer corp… and what are the junior enlisted to think?

    The Army has long been known for eating its own young officers. I used to think that was just unprofessional on the part of their officer corps, continuing a cycle of dropping bovine feces on those that follow, as had been done to them. I'd hear stories from USAF weather officers that had been assigned to airborne or air-cav units, how they'd give their staff briefings and be acknowledged with respect, while the following Army officer of the same rank would get ten words out and get fed into a figurative wood chipper.

    Based on these revelations, however… I still think it is unprofessional, but maybe it's because so much of the officer accession program is fundamentally broken that they don't know any better.

  8. Why should officer trainees be held to any standards, when the senior officers hold to none at all? The fish rots from the head.

    Did you know that the US Army now has over 100 trained women in the the infantry and armor branches. These female privates are not being integrated into line units until that unit has at least two female NCOs or officers. Think that through. They are cross-training women into infantry and armor NCO and officer positions, before the first female private can serve in a line unit. This is all hailed by the generals as a great step forward. The female LTC in charge of integration says that everything is going very well, and looks forward to the 400 other women currently in the pipeline, awaiting orders and placement.

    Women infantry. Suicidal rules of engagement. Fighting a war while trying desperately not to hurt anyone. Lawyers reviewing platoon operations orders. The insanity has been going on for a full generation now. There are no easy or simple solutions. Not only has the Army forgotten what right looks like, they've forgotten that there is such a thing as right and wrong.

  9. Affirmative Action simply means, "doesn't meet standards." It is Congress that sets the standard and Congress decided that unfit candidates must be not only welcomed with open arms in the military, they must also be promoted at the same rates as the 'fit' candidates and officers. One can hardly be surprised if standards across the board suffered an immediate collapse since the power and authority to enforce standards was withdrawn when Congress and the Court ordered them tossed out.

    The same collapse happened towards the end of WWII, the end of the Korean War and the end of the Vietnam War. Standards collapsed and the guys left holding the bag when the shooting resumed gained a whole new appreciation for honesty, integrity and meeting standards.

  10. An 'easy' way to solve the problem of the administration is to shit-can the whole lot of them. Completely. Run the whole Cadet Corps through a standard background check for TS eligibility. Fail? Gone. Run everyone through a Graduate Record Exam. Don't place high enough (scaled for what year the cadet is in) and Gone. Every cadet now goes on summer-camp to some shithole where they go through physical and military training and if they can't hack it there, Good-bye.

    Weed out the weak in the cadets.

    During the summer training session, replace all the administration and professors with new ones. Ones that pass a strict background check for above TS level. Find those grizzled, pissed off vets who scare everyone and put them in charge. The Commandant should have an unspoken reputation for eating babies and drinking the blood of failed soldiers. Let them rule with fire and terror, the way West Point used to be.

    What, the cadets won't like it? Well, they volunteered, didn't they?

    Everyone on campus, from the top to the bottom, should be subject to the same extent of the UCMJ, just like any enlistee is.

    Hey, I have a really great idea. Find a bunch of ex-Marine DI's, recruit them to be the supervisors of the cadets. Now that would be a laugh.

    And, make it so that the Congress-Critters, who are a major part of the problem, have no more sway. Hey, Senator Arse-Burns, your cadet has been accepted. Good Bye!

    Service academies, all of them, should be producing the best, not the worst. They should be focused on producing useful, intelligent, trained officers, not football players, not communists, not anything else. Officers with trained degrees, in military science, or a field that helps the military. No 'Fairy Studies' or other bull-scat field. Engineering, Math, Science, (Military) History.

    If we can't clean the academies up, then get rid of them. ROTC programs can, and will, produce better officers. If a Reserve officer is good enough, then offer him or her (no ITS allowed) a commission. And it better be earned, rather than a friggin merit badge.

  11. Sounds like what is happening in every school, and I daresay every military unit today.

    You can't have rules because the underprivileged would feel bad. You have to include women to make it *fair*. Nevermind that doing so in the military can cost lives.

    It's all about polical correctness and letting people feel good.

    Gag me.

  12. The problem of cleaning up West Point is the same this Administration has with cleaning the rest of the swamp; Trump gets accused of some dictatorial action.
    Trying to clean up the academy, as much as needed, would be met with howls and more "protests" from the lefties saying Trump is trying to stage a coup, when in fact THEY are the ones fostering insurrection.

  13. "Trying to clean up the academy, as much as needed, would be met with howls and more "protests" from the lefties saying Trump is trying to stage a coup, when in fact THEY are the ones fostering insurrection.

    October 12, 2017 at 4:01 PM"

    Gary, I agree. It's a case of "Pot, meet Kettle. Speak amongst yourselves."

  14. There was a 4-book (fiction) series written by Irving Hancock (1868 – 1922): "Dick Prescott At West Point" – the first written about 1910 if I recall. Fiction and idealized but the principles necessary to be a West Point cadet are probably still more or less "on the books" … in the sense that the Constitution is still the law of the land.

    A juvenile series but interesting concepts. If nothing else, an eye into cultural norms of a century ago. Available on Project Gutenberg and I understand the series has been reprinted.


  15. Trump is steering a super tanker, it takes time to make changes. It's just a matter of time to the service academy issue gets cleaned up…

    Trump is focusing on NK, Iran, immigration, and taxes. And in his spare time the NFL.

  16. I'm a 1975 graduate of the Naval Academy, and, while it may not be to the extent of having avowed Communists graduating, it's been deteriorating there for years. One of my classmates was relatively senior staff there in the mid-1990s, and the stories he told me at our 20th reunion left no doubt that excuses and political correctness were becoming the rule of the day even then.

    Back when I was still keeping track of such things, West Point had an all-military faculty, while Air Force and Navy were roughly 50% civilian faculty. Our general belief (mistaken or not) was that we had better academics, while Army was held to a higher standard of military discipline. That is either no longer the case, or Rapone is just less concerned with hiding himself than any similar Navy or Air Force graduate.

  17. Loyalty both up and down the chain of command is being destroyed. It has been so at least since Vietnam, and it started with the lies of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. It was enhanced and exacerbated with a command authority who had no interest in actually winning a war, but was entirely interested in saving their collective politically motivated asses. Number two on their “must do” list is to keep the monster of the military industrial complex fed- no matter how many troops were sacrificed to it. Guns and butter morphed into the warfare/welfare state, combat to commerce and it has continued right through the Pueblo, Koh Tang, the SS Mayagüez, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Benghazi, Syria, Libya and dozens of others. (But at this point what difference does it really make?)
    The difference is that our modern day dedicated warriors are beginning to realize they are being fucked. Fucked by the endless deployments, fucked by the PC bullshit they are forced to put up with, and fucked by the faithless bastards at the top of the chain of command. They are destroying the traditions the hold the military together.
    This P.O.S Rapone has “fragged” written all over him.

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