Thoughts from a Military Mom – Amanda Green

Thoughts from a Military Mom – Amanda Green


Yesterday, during a conversation with my son, the conversation turned as it does so often to the military. I had seen an article a day or so earlier from someone who suggested we do away with our military academies. According to the author of the article, the academies are not filled with the best and the brightest. They no longer prepare our officers for the rigors of command. What they are, he alleges, are drains on the tax dollar and underproductive. You see, as far as this person is concerned, the military does well at training but not at education.

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t particularly like the admission process for the service academies. If you or your family doesn’t have political clout, it becomes extremely difficult to gain admittance, no matter what your academic record or military career goals. Each year, a number of appointments go unfilled because the politicians simply don’t use their allotted numbers. Worse, many of the politicians don’t let those students applying for one of their allotted slots know if they have made the final cut for consideration or not.

In short, the application process is flawed.

But what really got to me about the article is that the author of it, who happens to be an instructor at the Naval Academy (but not, if I remember correctly, a member of the military). Worse, his whole emphasis was that it is up to the Republicans to change the system since they are the ones who are so worried about our tax dollars. The Republicans are to reach across the aisle and take care of this horrible problem. The Republicans will be at fault if they do nothing and we keep spending tax dollars on the academies.

Funny, did the academies become a problem only after the Republicans regained the majority of Congress or is this sour grapes? My bet is on sour grapes.

Or maybe it has something to do with the Moon or the water or something else. After all, not long before reading that article (which appeared in Salon and that, in itself, say a lot) I heard a commentary about another article concerning the service academies. This other article apparently condemned the academies because they – gasp – made their cadets do late night exercises and pushed them hard, not only physically but in their studies. They interrupted the sleep of the cadets at times to run surprise exercises. They didn’t give the cadets as much free time as students at “real” colleges” got.

In short, the academies were mean and didn’t let their cadets get a good night’s sleep every night.

My first thought upon hearing this was a long and loud “WTF?!?” Then I found myself wondering if the person so upset that cadets might be awakened in the middle of the night to go on a run or something similar had the same concerns about fraternities and the pranks they pull on their pledges. But fraternities are allowed to do this, I guess, because they are social organizations and booze.

My son’s reaction, much like mine, was quick and explosive. My son, who is currently serving in the military, is not a graduate of one of the service academies. In fact, he is one of those who tried to get in but we didn’t have the political clout and, worse, one of our senators was notorious for not using all of her appointments – and she failed to do so the year my son applied. No, my son is a proud Texas Aggie and member of the Corps of Cadets. The Corps that has trained up more flag rank officers than any other college except the service academies.

With all their faults, the service academies do serve a purpose. They help forge the officers that will lead our military. Part of that process is throwing things at the cadets that they aren’t expecting. Wars aren’t fought on an 8 to 5 schedule. The enemy doesn’t give you a schedule of their movements and plans, making sure you have time to respond. So why should we not make sure those we want to command the troops that will respond to the threat of enemy action are able to adapt to any situation?

Despite the Salon author’s contention that ROTC programs can give a future officer everything he or she needs to be an effective officer, that’s simply not the case. There is a reason why graduates from the service academies, and colleges like Texas A&M where organizations like the Corps of Cadets exist, produce more senior officers than any other programs. Members of the A&M Corps of Cadets are immersed in the military lifestyle and mindset just as students at the military academies are. They live and breathe that sort of life or they get out. So, unless you are going to make sure more colleges put together successful programs like TAMU, the dissolution of the military academies as anything more than short term training programs will be detrimental not only to the military but to this country as well.

All that said, change does need to come to both the service academies and to the military as a whole. Admission to the academies needs to put less emphasis on political clout and more an ability and the desire to make the military more than a one hitch commitment. The military needs to police itself better and it needs to be given the freedom to actually accomplish the missions put to it. If we enter into a firefight or a war, we need to go in with the attitude that we are going to win it, not just hold the line or push back the enemy while we train someone else to take over.

In other words, we let the military do what it does best. We don’t tie our commanders’ hands because war might get messy. It is war. People die, whether we like it or not. There will be collateral damage, especially when the enemy has no qualms about hiding in the middle of civilian neighborhoods.

Instead of tearing down the military academies, we need to tear down the artificial sensibilities that the SJW crowd has imposed on the conduct of war. There was a time when the world respected our military and knew that if the commander-in-chief mobilized our forces, butts were about to be kicked. That is no longer the case. The enemy knows we won’t be swift with reprisals and we sure won’t come in and finish the fight. What the SJWs refuse to admit is that, as long as this is the mindset, more people will die, innocents will die because we aren’t there to protect them.

And, no, those innocents won’t all be citizens of other countries. Don’t believe me? Look at the number of Americans who have died or been kidnapped who are non-military but who have been taken by our enemy simply because they are American.

And because the enemy knows we won’t do a damned thing about it.

As a mother with a son in the military, it scares the crap out of me to think we might one day be in a war where my son could be in danger. Then the realist in me realizes he already is simply by being American. He doesn’t have to be in the military to be in danger from those who hate our country. But, because he is in the military, he is at least trying to do something to keep our country safe. That’s more than a lot of folks can say.

Yes, I’m pissy this morning. I’m tired of seeing our politicians bow their heads and stick their tails between their legs when it comes to people who want to see our country fall. I’m sick of seeing Washington do nothing when our countrymen are murdered by ISIS and their ilk. I’m sick of seeing our leaders insult countries that are our allies by not supporting them in their time of need. (BTW, where was our president yesterday? Was he watching football or playing golf instead of being in Paris? If he couldn’t go, why didn’t the VP or Secretary of State? If the heads of Germany, Israel, even the Palestinian states could be there to show their solidarity with France, why couldn’t we have someone there, someone more than an ambassador?)

The answer to our problems isn’t to do away with the military academies. Yes, we need to cut federal spending but cutting military budgets and doing away with the service academies is not the answer. Instead of advocating further neutering our military, perhaps the Salon author ought to remember the words of John F. Kennedy when he said:

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

In other words, reform is needed not at the service academy level but at the social services level where we are now seeing generations of families on welfare. Service to the country can take many forms. It isn’t limited to the military but, in my opinion at least, that is a pretty damned good place to start.


166 responses to “Thoughts from a Military Mom – Amanda Green

  1. Pingback: Nocturnal Lives » Setting the stage

  2. Frankly, the SJWs and their ilk are (slowly) discovering that they cannot control society unless they control the military, amd that they don’t understand the military well enough to control it. Typically, they are trying to change the military into something the DO understand, without understanding what they are changing. This will work for tyem about as well as all their other idiocies.

    As for your JFK quote; his daddy sure did hire him some good writers. Pity he wasn’t anywhere near as smart as he talked.

    And, to be blunt, I’m aimimg lower these days. I want the “citizens of the world” to ask not what American can do for them, but what America will do TO them if they come to our negative attention.

    • Believe me, I thought long and hard about the JFK quote because I do not bow down to the Camelot years and worship the mighty Kennedy the way so many still seem to do. However, the quote has always resonated with me and it fits perfectly how I feel right now. I am tired of people asking what the country will do for them when they don’t give a damn about asking themselves what they can do for the country. And yes, Papa Joe did hire really good speechwriters for all his boys and they learned to do the same.

    • Truth said by someone who is wrong in all other things is no less true, and it was very well phrased…..

  3. “Instead of tearing down the military academies, we need to tear down the artificial sensibilities that the SJW crowd has imposed on the conduct of war.”

    We are not allowed to ‘disrespect’ the enemy.

    We must be exquisitely sensitive over anything which might give enemies offense.

    But yet – their ‘respect’ for us shows… no lower limit.

    I’d postulate that this is intentional, and a preface to cultural surrender. The sheer hate for our culture shown by the SJW crowd and their passionate embrace of the ‘other’ culture as being more worthy of enduring than our own is an odd dichotomy, very much like intentionally sawing off the branch you’re comfortably sitting on because you hate the tree that produced it.

    As the song goes – “You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone”. The SJW class depends on freedom and a standard of living that’s at the top of anything the world has EVER produced to support their lifestyles – and a cultural tolerance locally that would see them either dead or imprisoned in other countries.

    And they’d complain bitterly if it went away, which is what they want it to do.

    War isn’t a game. You don’t get points by playing nicely – you win by destroying the other side’s ability or will to make war against you or your allies. You can’t do it in a ‘respectful’ manner, and you can’t do it without a whole lot of bloodshed. I can understand the SJWs being icky about blood and death – but I don’t understand how they expect war to be fought and won without using trained professionals – and those skills aren’t something you pick up in 2 years at the local community college.

    Now, if you’re looking to fight a war and intentionally (or tacitly) lose, that’s another matter entirely…

    • Giving the other guy what he wants and then trying to bargain is always foolish.

      • Yes, but isn’t that the SJW way when faced with a threat that actually involves more than just disagreement or perhaps a harsh look? Easy enough to be brave when the worst you might get when you’re as offensive as possible is a punch in the face – but death raises the stakes considerably.

        I’m wondering also if it isn’t starting to sink into the SJWs psyche that they’ve really been backing the wrong group. Charlie Hedbo was about as counterculture as it got, poking offense at everyone. They were freedom of speech personified to the SJW class, doing the ‘truth to power’ thing in France. Any suggestion of censorship would have been met with a loud ‘Non!’ – because it was important that the press be free. That they be untouchable.

        And they got killed for it.

        Now the SJW crowd see the choice they’ve got to make. Fight those who would kill them? Or stop fighting and surrender, and destroy their entire identity as ‘SJW’ in submission.

        • naah, they will cover there ears and say “LALALA I CANT HEAR YOU LALALA!!!” when it is pointed out to them.

    • Jerry, that sort of idiocy — not being allowed to “disrespect” the enemy — is one of the things that drives me absolutely crazy. Between that and the belief that war can be conducted without death or collateral damage, I sometimes want to scream. War is hell and it is hell for a reason. The key is to make it more of a hell for the enemy than it is for us. At least that’s my opinion.

  4. When I read that the daughter of an ex-girlfreind had graduated from the Air Force Academy I thought first “Holy Cow am I getting old” (and this was several years ago so I feel even older just thinking of it), then I was happy for her, then I wondered how she got her appointment. Her mother was a former ward of the State, and her father is from the Caribbean (my uncaffeinated brain cannot remember which … I wanna say Trinidad), and neither was what one would think of as politically connected.

    • JP, there are a few who can make appointments who actually do it based on qualifications. I hope that is what happened with this young woman. Unfortunately, too many use it as a return for political assistance. That’s why I would like that part of the Academy process to change.

      • If her father was not a US citizen or still had contacts in whatever Caribbean state he was from, it might have been an Ambassadorial appointment. They at least used to get some. Some of my childhood acquaintances from Brazil got into the Military academies with those. I was considering going for Air Force myself until my myopia developed.

      • I figure it was based on qualifications. Just was never sure, and we’d gone well down the road of our separate ways by then

    • I have a friend who went through Annapolis. Given that I met him as he was getting his BSA Eagle, I would assume he used that as his knowledge and leverage to get an appointment. (It’s kind of scary to think that was eighteen years ago; he is career military and is currently based out of Germany.)

      • A number of the politicians who hand out their allotment of appointments to the academies require those who make it to the final round of consideration to be Eagle Scout or the equivalent.

  5. For real world evidence of why we have service academies, one has only to look at the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. Look at the balance of forces involved. The Americans were mostly outnumbered, massively so in terms of total troops in theater. But the fact that we had a professionally trained officer corps more than made up the difference. You can’t absorb that kind of thinking and attitude in one hour or two hours per day. You’ve got to live, breathe, and work in it 24/7 for months at a time.

    Outside of the US, you can also see this in the campaigns of Frederick the Great of Prussia, or the wars between Sweden and Russia.

    • My brother has apparently eaten up the talking points in the above article, and is now convinced that service academies do nothing and that OCS plus experience is magically better. (Not to say anything against experience, but having a salting of both command officer paths is probably better.)

      The amusing thing is that he’s a big fan of dressage and the old riding academies, but apparently learning Officer Stuff every day for years is less valuable than learning Horse Stuff every day for years.

      To be fair, he has a computer career that mostly hasn’t involved needing to finish any degrees, so there’s that.

      • That level of disconnect is physically painful for me to think about. It causes me to scrunch up my face so hard it hurts.

      • The service academies are pretty top-notch in some ways, but deficient in others.
        Personally, I’m a big believer in mustangs. Someone who spent a couple of years as a ground pounder before going into OCS will have some significant advantages over service academy graduates. (And certainly over ROTCs.) At least at the junior officer corps levels, anyway. Among the “perfumed princes”, they tend not to do as well.

        • In my short time in the military, I had officers who were all of em- good and bad, Academy and ROTC and mustangs… One of the worst was the butterbar XO for my BCT company, who was an academy grad and a total ass. One of the best was my last CO, who was an academy grad and actually seemed to have some empathy…

          • It’s good to know the Academies turn out good officers. I’ve dealt with a small handful (and my first company commander was one) and they were all micromanaging nuisances (our First Sergeant spent most of his day time hours making sure the Captain stayed out of everyone’s way so they could get THEIR jobs done). I don’t know if it was the MOS field or the Academy. I much preferred to serve under officers who’d spent some time as enlisted.

            I do agree that the solution is not doing away with the academies, but rather fixing the pieces that are broken.

            • our BDE CDR wasn’t bad, wither… after seeing me stumble while trying to salute on crutches, he had me balance on something and showed me how was acceptable.

    • Agreed. OCS has its place but it doesn’t take the place of training and environment where the future officer has years to get not only the book learning but the tradition and mindset of a successful officer.

      • Not true in the slightest. Academy grads _can_ have the advantage the first couple of years but after that ongoing professional training levels the field. More often than not academy grads hit active duty thinking they know more than they do and with a greater sense of worth than they have. Not that many of them are bad, just been encouraged to think too highly of themselves. Remember, every second lieutenant is just in the larval stage of being an officer and has more real world learning to do than they ever did in the academy.

        But this bilge about getting rid of the service academies is completely wrong headed as the academies do serve a purpose as a core of tradition and professionalism. Not that the academies are the exclusive domain, but ROTC units are creatures of the colleges and can be canceled at a whim.

        I would say the academies need to stiffen up. It was both embarrassing and enraging to be a serving AF Captain commanding a squadron in Colorado Springs and read of the scandal de jour at the AFA and see the cadets weren’t just automatically bounced out for honor violations. See, at the ROTC unit at University of Wyoming, where I earned my commission after serving 4 years in the US Marine Corps, our Colonel taught us quite firmly that an officer without honor was no officer.

        As to attaining flag rank statistics; academy grads within a few years of each other all know each other and keep those relationships alive the rest of their careers. Nobody makes senior officer rank without gaining a sponsor at those ranks. This isn’t always bad, but it does give the advantage to the person who the general knew as a lower classman and has confidence in. It makes it harder to break through for an “outsider”.

        And, due to a curt remark below, I’ll point out that I served 4 years enlisted in the USMC and experienced all brands of officers from the underside. Then I went to college for the express purpose to earn a commission in the USAF and then served 8 years on active duty as on officer, holding two command positions over that time. The only reason I am not on active duty or retired is because we won the Cold War and Bush the senior and Congress wanted to spend the peace dividend. My year group numbered 485 men and women, only 4 were left after the RIF.

        Hold on to your idealism and stay romantic, just keep in mind that, as we used to say in the Corps, “things are different once you hit the fleet”.

        • I don’t know what I said to upset you so, especially to deserve the “idealism and romantic” comment. However, I never said OCS doesn’t have its place or that after several years those who went through OCS don’t have as much — if not more — experience, respect, whatever. What I did say is that OCS doesn’t have the time to instill the tradition or the book learning an Academy can. Yes, there are good officers and bad who come out of the Academy, just as there are out of OCS. Frankly, if I had my way, most officers would be Mustangs. But that’s just me showing my “idealism” and staying “romantic”.

          • LOL, sorry, you accidentally stomped hard on one of my hot buttons. I’m afraid my life’s ambition from the age of 8 was to be an Air Force officer. You don’t have to be an academy grad to be steeped in the culture of military service, honor, devotion to duty, sacredness of oaths, especially to our constitution…but I’m sure you know that and I let a tender spot get the better of me…my apologies.

            • No sweat. I completely understand and, believe me, I have the utmost respect for anyone who holds close the attributes you named. I also know you don’t have to be an Academy grad to have them, especially since none of my direct relatives were and yet they epitomized those qualities, at least in my eyes. Sorry for hitting your hot buttons.

        • Feather Blade

          Not that the academies are the exclusive domain, but ROTC units are creatures of the colleges and can be canceled at a whim.

          I’m pretty sure that ROTC programs are required by the charters of land-grant universities, so those at least can’t be canceled whenever the peaceniks gain power.

          Private universities and public, non-land-grant institutions on the other hand…yeah.

  6. I have twin cousins that both went to the Naval Academy. They had connections (father was a Captin in Veitnam flying Helios and his Uncle is an Army General) but they also gave up a lot in high school. They were the best students, great athletes, massive volunteers in bed by 9:30 every night type of girls.

    I have never heard them complain about any hazing during school. They talked about it but never in a bad way. Actually they seem to look back at it with pride. Most of my family who were in the service have been enlisted so we were extremely proud to have a couple of Officers in the group.

    • Joe, most of those I know who went to the academies are like your cousins. They worked hard, despite their “connections”, to qualify and then worked even harder once there. Of course, I come from a family with long military ties as you do. That may give us a different perspective on things from those who simply look at the academies as evil institutions that don’t let their students get a good night sleep seven days a week.

  7. William O. B'Livion

    Sounds like someone needs to be given the opportunity to find a position more in line with his abilities and interests.

    There will probably be a lot more inner city community colleges soon.

    • Sounds like someone who is either about to retire or who will find it being suggested he ought to find another place to teach. Of course, should the latter occur, he probably wouldn’t hesitate to run as fast as his little SJW feet could carry him to his attorney’s office.

      • If I remember the last time this stuff hit the news, nothing of the sort happens. The last time was a bit more openly…ah… partisan, we’ll say. I think it involved disrespect to W, while he was in office.

        They’re perfectly safe and sound right where they are, taking a check from the folks they badmouth….

        • It’s the same sort of thing now. Sour grapes that the Republicans won the midterm elections. Still, it would be nice, for a change, to see something happen.

          • Just to the extent of enforcing the rules both ways, equally.

            I know for a blanking fact that “no political statements in uniform” and “if you use your job position to support your political one, you’re going to loose that job” get enforced in the opposite way, even in cases where they didn’t even mention they were actively working in there.

  8. “There will be collateral damage, especially when the enemy has no qualms about hiding in the middle of civilian neighborhoods.”

    It needs to be stressed every time this comes up that it is an ACTUAL war crime, called perfidy, under the Geneva Conventions, and that any collateral damage caused by the response to perfidy is a war crime on the part of the one committing the original perfidy, NOT the responder.

    • Ah, but the SJWs don’t actually jniw what is IN the Geneva Convention, or what the Laws of War are. If they did they would die of shock.

      • The Laws of War are whatever BS the libprogs have come up with in the last five minutes that makes Western armies look like criminals. Just ask one.

        • I try not to ask a SJW anything unless I need a load of high grade fertilizer.

        • For instance, watch them having vapors over the term “unlawful combatant” which we invented — so as to have a term to designate those civilians who took up arms without the rest of the stuff to make them lawful combatants. Oh horrors!

    • There you go, using logic and facts again. You know the SJWs don’t do well with either of those, especially when they don’t support the SJW position. But thanks for reminding the rest of us because it is something we need to point out every time the idiocy rears its ugly head.

  9. Sarah,

    In case you aren’t already aware, you got a nice quote in Clarice Feldman’s American Thinker post.

    Is there more connection than Instapundit? I first ran into Clarice as a commenter over on Just One Minute, but she gets link-love from Glenn Reynolds (as do you) also.

  10. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

    I have a sticker on my car that says:
    “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for yourself.”

    I got it here Do For YOURSELF

  11. They didn’t give the cadets as much free time as students at “real” colleges” got.

    Yeah, but you know what they get in return for that? Four years of college, a job, and zero financial debt to follow them for the next however many years after graduation.

    Seems like a fair trade if you ask me.

    My son is pretty smart (which father doesn’t say that?) and he’s leaning towards being an engineer. Leaning heavily. He would also like to serve in the military. Like my father before me, I’m urging him to go officer instead of enlisted (though I won’t cry if he goes E instead of O). So, that leaves his options open.

    Here’s what we’re looking at. He could go ROTC and, even with HOPE and a possible ROTC scholarship, still have to take on debt for anything we can’t pay for outright; or go to one of the service academies. I might have enough pull to get him an appointment, though that’s not a given either. (And that’s assuming the congressman here now will still be here then)

    The one thing I told him was that the military is far, far more than a way to pay for college. If you serve, you must prepare for war. I don’t care if you’re infantry or supply, you owe it to yourself and your men to be as prepared for war as humanly possible.

    Those midnight wake ups? That lack of free time? All of that is to get the cadet used to the idea that life can sometime suck. It’s not all fun, games, and keg stands. It’s about preparing to lead men into battle. As former enlisted, I’d really rather they take that seriously.

    • My dad wasn’t service academy, but he retired a major. He also was an engineer, in temperament more than job (“Program Management Consultant”—it took me years to figure out what he actually did, which was to coordinate a whole bunch of departments so that they’d get the planes fixed.)

      He also had a healthy disrespect for rank, which was how he ended up going to the Pentagon every year—what I mean is that he’d tell you the truth without being awed by your superior rank. (He got that job by explaining to a Colonel exactly why a particular fiscal management style was “a damned stupid idea”, and apparently he was very good at that explanation.)

      I *think* he became an officer through being enlisted, but I can’t say for certain.

      • They happen. Knew quite a few of them when I was in. However, they weren’t the usual back then.

      • You dad sounds like my son. He will respect the rank but not be awed by it. He will also tell you the truth about a project or how a personnel situation should be handled. Right now, he is fortunate because his CO appreciates that in him. Fingers crossed it doesn’t wind up biting him in the butt any time soon.

    • Tom, as I said, my son graduated from Texas A&M. He took his degree in Construction Science. He did both the Corps of Cadets and the ROTC route. The Corps gave him a lot of the military tradition and mindset (at least under the previous commandant) and ROTC gave him the USAF focused information he needed. As for the lack of free time, he didn’t often miss it. Part of it was because he was learning what his life would be like over the next however many years because he had decided to join the military. Part of it was because the members of the Corps do things together outside of the Corps. They are “buddies” and are there for one another during college and for years after.

      The thing where the writer complained about the lack of regular hours and free time really got to me because it assumes that the military operates on regular hours. It doesn’t. You don’t have to be on the front lines to have your schedule dictated by current events or the travel of some dignitary. But I guess in this guy’s little world, the enemy works a nine to five job and everyone gets go home at night without a care in the world.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Maybe he watched too many of a series of cartoons about a wolf and a sheepdog.

        The cartoons always ended with both the wolf and the sheepdog “clocking out” at the end of their shift. [Evil Grin]

      • You don’t have to be on the front lines to have your schedule dictated by current events or the travel of some dignitary.

        No, you don’t. I remember some 16 hour days because of hurricanes bearing down on us when I was at Portsmouth.

        Then again, I don’t really remember sleeping during that time. At all. So it might have been more than that.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Combat Engineer is an engineer, right?

      • Having been one… No. They really should have stuck with “sapper”, at least for we enlisted scum.

        On the other hand, ‘twould have been a bit more honest to call us “nihilistic large-scale vandals with a predilection for the massive destruction of public property”.

        Of course, that doesn’t fit very well into things, so maybe not. Still more honest, though.

      • True, and he might opt to go that route.

        Of course, he’s wanting to do robotics (drones, anyone?), so…

    • You need to look carefully at the schools to apply for if going for ROTC and trying to reduce college costs. For example- Niagara University gives room and board to all ROTC scholarship students. There are other schools that do the same. You have to search them out. May not be your first choice of schools. But, if you don’t want to take on debt, maybe you should make them your first choice.

      • Well, it won’t be MY debt, but between HOPE, an ROTC scholarship, and maybe a few other things, he might not have any debt anyways.

        I’ll let him know. He’s only in 8th grade now, so he’s got time. 😀

  12. Well said, the academies DO fill a professional niche that is part of very limited group. Texas A&M, Norwich, Citadel and VMI are the ONLY professional education programs in the US that have a military impetus, and none of them do ‘specific’ service training. Good friend of mine was in the first class of women at USNA, she said it wasn’t particularly ‘fun’, but she completed it and a 28 year career in the Navy retiring as a Captain.

    Wartime, hell the military in general, is NOT a 9 to 5 job, unless you consider it being 0900 to 0500. It’s 24/7/365 and someone always has the duty. Military institutions ‘train’ to that standard.

    I’ve served with officers from all of the major military schools in addition to ROTC, ROTC had and still has lower standards, and one is facing a large student loan bill coming out of most of those institutions. Sadly you are also correct, there are congresscritters that refuse to use their quotas in protest…

    Having said all that, the SJWs can go pound sand in a rat hole, they don’t have a CLUE of what they’re trying to tear down…

    • I agree with you, especially about war not being a 9 to 5 job. When my son chose TAMU, he made the decision to do both the Corps of Cadets AND ROTC so he got both the tradition of the Corps, and the training that came with it, as well as the service specific training from the ROTC. But not every member of the Corps decided to go into the military and not every ROTC student was in the Corps.

    • Maine Maritime Academy. SUNY Maritime College. Texas A & M Maritime Academy. California Maritime Academy. Great Lakes Maritime Academy. Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

      Seems to be a theme there.

  13. They’ve been trying to get rid of, or at least alter, the academies for years. Twenty years ago, when I went back to USNA for my 20th reunion, one of my old roommates was 5th Battalion Officer, and we spent an hour or two in his office while he told me about how differently things were being done compared to our time there. These changes tended to decrease order and discipline in favor of touchy-feely and hiding problems, such as announcing a schedule for drug testing and room searches when a problem came to light, rather than just going ahead unannounced.

    I can only imagine how things are now.

    There was an SF short story I read many years ago, whose title I unfortunately don’t recall, and my Google-fu has proven insufficient for the task. It was written as a history of how the US lost a war to a Latin American country. Possibly Mexico, but I don’t recall the details. The memorable part of the story for me was a short passage describing the differences between the operating orders given to the respective militaries, which went something like:

    General Mendoza said, “My generals, win me this war!” This volume does not have sufficient room to contain what the US military was told by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the National Organization for Women, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and many others.

  14. “This other article apparently condemned the academies because they – gasp – made their cadets do late night exercises and pushed them hard, not only physically but in their studies. They interrupted the sleep of the cadets at times to run surprise exercises. They didn’t give the cadets as much free time as students at “real” colleges” got.”
    You are preparing men to fight a war. Do they think it is a 9 to 5 job? They have no conception of what goes on. My son in law was on a carrier during Desert Storm. The first 36 hours they went without sleep and afterwards they would be able to get maybe 1 to 3 hours. And that was on the carrier the guy on the ground had it worse.
    BTW when I was in the Air Force it was not uncommon for me to be called at 2 AM

    • There’s one of the reasons that I never considered a career in the military. I’m not physically capable of staying awake more than 24 hrs—I’ve done so all of once in my life, and my function dropped off sharply. I’m pretty sure that I’d fall asleep whether I wanted or not long before the 36 hr time.

      (I’d do better in other capacities anyway. Design or procedural design, for example.)

    • Unfortunately, the reality of war seems to have escaped the author as does the reality of what service academies are for. Sigh.

  15. There is no idea so stupid that Salon won’t write a vapid error-ridden piece on it.

  16. It’s hard to comment on the article itself since I haven’t read the piece and no link was provided. That much being said, the idea of ridding the US of its service academies is some mix of terrible, horrible and double-plus ungood mixed in a blender on high and then made worse.

    All three service academies were created due to the needs of the various branches of service. The officers that come out of same are more used to the rigors of military life and reacting quickly. There are other advantages as well. For example, The United State Military Academy at West Point was originally created due to a critical lack of military engineer officers in the US Army. To this day, every cadet is required to take some form of engineering. As a result, the US Army no longer suffers from that lack. As an added aside, if the service academies do better at training than they do at education then that’s a good thing. They’re not there to provide liberal arts majors. They exist to prepare future officers to fight wars.

    The real problem here is that the SJWs think that defunding the military is a good way to fund their lunacy. To an SJW, a service academy is nothing other than a way to push baby killers through a system by taking funding away from welfare. I would say that crap like this is best ignored, but we have to fight it.

    The US military has answered the call whenever asked to, and in exemplary fashion. We have an all volunteer force who has intentionally placed themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us. We cannot let them down by removing something that makes assists them in fighting better thus making them more likely to achieve their objective as well as make it home after the war (whatever war it is/will be) is over. We can’t let them do that.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I checked, I think inside of the past ten years, and West Point lists non-engineering degree programs.

      • Degree programs, yes. All cadets are still required to take engineering classes even if it is outside of their major.

        • Absolutely. An English major, or any other liberal arts major might as well call their degree an Engineering English (or insert other name of major) Degree.

    • Kipling skewered them. ” makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep”

      • “Is cheaper than them uniforms an’ the’re starvation cheap.”

        What proportion of military families are eligable for food stamps?

        • “Eligible” is a bad metric, a lot of allowances don’t count.

          About 5k military families get them.

          Given the recent massive push to get older people on food stamps, and since ’04 reservists and their family can use the stores, food stamp total-dollar-amount has gone way up on military bases:

          For a reality check, I suspect a lot of commands are pushing people to “get help” that they don’t need; I’m still mortified that my husband’s command sent home a box of food for our Thanksgiving four years ago, based on the income and dependents of their employees. (We added it to the pile of stuff for the SVdPaul food donations, and quietly stopped donating to the command food drives.)

          • I should also point out that there is a… sub population… of the military which considers “exploiting programs” to be an obligation, to the point of keeping spouses working only under the table so they qualify for more.

    • Jim, this was one of those cases where I didn’t link to the article because I refuse to give it or Salon any more traffic than I absolutely have to. However, it is easy to find with just a little bit of google-fu.

      What really got to me about the article, other than the idiocy of wanting to do away with the academies or make them into short term training facilities, was how the author kept calling for the Republicans to make the cuts. If the Republicans were serious about cutting spending, they should start here. Well, I have a suggestion. Let them start by cutting funding for his job. Think he will still be singing the same song if they do?

      • If they cut his job, he’d probably try to jump to one of the War Colleges. Good luck getting a university slot unless he’s in a very high-demand specialty (or hyphenated-studies and meets diversity requirements.)

        • Oh but there will be all that demand for instructors at the community college level when the O’s program to make two years free. Never mind worrying about where the money for such a program will come from.

          • from you and me, who else?

            Oh, yes, from the children, who have no vote and so the people stuck with the bill.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        To be charitable, there is a case to be made for something like that on the Republican side.

        If Democratic taxation and spending will eventually ruin the economy to the level that hyperinflation induced readiness problems then would be the same as those from fully cutting the military budget now, then Democrat concessions on military funding would not be worth conceding their spending.

        The obvious counterargument is that Republican politicians are quite a bit more confident than that. Rightly or wrongly, I don’t know.

        That said, accepting zeroing out the military budget as the cost for zeroing out all the other budgets is perhaps very far from the proposal in question.

    • Corrrection. All FIVE service academies were created due to the needs of the various branches of service. People always seem to forget the USCGA, which does not use the political appointment process. Purely competitive. And the USMMA. The Merchant Marine isn’t exactly a service branch- and isn’t exactly isn’t. Depends on what’s going on the world. But competent mariners aren’t created overnight.

      My WWII Merchant Mariner uncle had medals awarded for 4 theatres of operation.

      • I have committed an error and stand corrected. You are right go space, both about the USCG being an armed force and the weird status of the USMMA. I study military history and deciding whether or not to include them as a military service quite frankly gives me a case of the willies.

      • I worked for and around several Merchant Marine Academy grads during my time on active duty in the Army, and they were all uniformly outstanding officers. 1LT Aaron Seesan was a platoon leader in the 73rd Engineer Company when my best friend was the 1SG there. He is still remembered and mourned to this day. Outstanding young man, who impressed the hell out of me even though I only met him once or twice in passing. IED, HMMWV, and 3rd degree burns over 80% of his body. His driver died, as well.

        I think the nation more than got its money’s worth from educating that young man.

        The thing that needs to be remembered is that a lot of the MMA graduates go on to branch out in other services. Looking up the losses since 2001, I find that there are several more KIA from that academy, and all in the regular armed forces. One navy officer, dead from an Afghani turncoat, and another Marine officer who died in Iraq.

        In terms of the size of the school, I suspect that’s probably a fairly disproportionate number.

      • The Allied Merchant Marine had the second highest casualty rate in WWII.

        The German submarines had the highest. The Battle of the Atlantic was nasty.

  17. BobtheRegisterredFool

    If the federal government should not be supporting service academies, it should not be supporting tertiary education, period.

    These days there are plenty of private schools with an ABET engineering program.

    There is no benefit on the national level to federal involvement in tertiary education that exceeds that of officer training.

  18. First, admission here: I had applied to West Point and Annapolis, didn’t make the cut, and did an ROTC scholarship after enlisting in the Army, finally ending up flying B-52s for a number of years before leaving the military.

    But the biggest difference between the vast majority of ROTC grads and Academy/Mil School grads, can be shown by asking a Junior Officer what they do for a living.

    A ROTC grad or OTS grad will generally tell you what they are currently assigned to do: Engineer, Admin, etc.

    An Academy or MilSchool grad (and SOME ROTC/OTS types, and generally those who were Mustangs [prior enlisted]. . .) will say they are an Officer, or just say they a Lieutenant or Captain in (insert service here)

    It wasn’t AS notable in Bombers, as we tended to have 30-40% prior enlisted as officers. But I saw it all the time in officers assigned to Maintenance and at CBPO. . .

    • My son applied to the Air Force Academy and wound up going to TAMU. He’s noted the same thing you’ve described to some extent, although it seems like he sees it more with other branches than he has with the USAF so far. Still, I want the academies and the training they provide instead of facing a war without an officer corps ready to step up when needed.

      • Depends where he’s stationed. If it’s a “Combat” base. i.e. the major units have a Combat-oriented mission, you get a lot more emphasis on Officership.

        If it’s purely a support or engineering base (Wright-Patterson in Ohio is pretty much the archetype here, although Andrews in Maryland gets that way. . .), you get more of the “IBM in Uniform” attitude. . .

    • IIRC Ted Williams set an example for a certain group and as noted below it was during the Korean War (police action?) – being asked in an interview Williams distinguished what he was – a Marine Rifleman – from what he did – fly jet planes.

  19. The military, being the mechanism that it is, always gets the brunt of whatever is going on in a nation. Either they’re heroes or scum that pond algae wouldn’t associate with. There never seems to be an in between.

    Though odd side note: hazing tends to elicit a “I will throat punch you” response from me. The fiance and I found this out just a few days ago. Which makes zero sense to me as far as I know (I do admit I have big chunks of memory missing) I’ve never been hazed, never been around a incident of it or did hazing to anyone. Why it seems to bring up a violence-willing response I’m still trying to figure out.
    It also stifles what the fiance is willing to recount me. That part hurts more.

    • Of all the stuff people have done to me, I never got formally or informally hazed. And yet, I feel that violence is a decent response to most of that stuff. (When people keep it down to sending the newbs on educational snipe hunts or initiatory experiences, it’s really not hazing.)

    • I have issues with hazing as well. But I don’t seen waking a cadet up in the middle of the night to go on a run or do exercises, etc., as hazing. Hazing is what we see with so many of the Greek organizations at school. Training is not hazing and the other way around.

  20. Eamon J. Cole

    Having nothin’ to do with nothin’:

    I should be doing other things, but I was smacked upside the head with a short story (precursor to the novel that won’t) at lunch. So, now I’m frantically scrabbling at the keyboard…

    Dropping this here to collect comments.

  21. My impresion of the Military Acadamies, from reading bith fiction and history, has been that theyntake people who should be in ten military and turn them into supreior officers, and people who shouldn’t be in the military and turn them into complete a55holes.

  22. I received an appointment to the Air Force Academy from my local congresscritter, because my aunt worked for him, and I beat out all the competition. That last is important — my grades were middle-level (didn’t apply myself until the last two quarters of high school – came out with a 3.5 from those two semesters, showing what I COULD have done if I’d smartened up earlier). I washed out in December, after a boxing accident left me in the hospital for three weeks (probably a closed-head brain injury – I had headaches for three months afterwards). I enlisted afterwards, and spent 26 years total in the Air Force.

    There were good and bad people at the Academy. Some of them were friends, even afterwards. My cadet basic roommate and I have met each other several times since then, and enjoy one another’s company. I did a few things in the Air Force most enlisted don’t get to do because of those friendships, including getting shot at (I could have skipped that…). I’ve known nine of my classmates that made General – three of them I’d move heaven and earth for, three others I wouldn’t even serve under if I had a choice. The other three – I don’t know enough about them.

    The Academies need reforming. They need to get rid of a lot of the PC BS. They must return to concentrating on the art of waging war, and the history behind why we do the things we do when we wage war. They also need to get rid of the anti-religious bias, and the other idiocies that go along with the PC BS. Doing away with them entirely would be self-destructive.

    • Mike, you ht it on the head with your comment about what the academies need to do to reform. Yes, they do need to get rid of the PC BS. They need to train our men and women on how to wage — and win — wars, etc. Not that the SJW crowd will ever agree.

      • Ah, yes, PC BS. I flew “conventional” B-52s, i.e. our mission was not JUST “Urban Removal”, but Iron Bombs, HARPOON missiles for anti-surface warfare, and the rapid laying of minefields for anti-submarine warfare.

        When deployed (and this was in the 1980s, mind you), we got complaints about some of our more “violent” patches. In particular, we had one with a winged Skull, dripping blood over a globe. With the motto “Low and out of the dark: we make nightmares”.

        The issue was brought to the Wing Commander. I was on the Wing Staff at the time, and the Public Affairs officer mentioned it during Standup.

        Colonel O’Malley just looked at the guy, and laughed. And then stated that it was the sort of patch he EXPECTED on his “steely-eyed killers”.

        These days, the Wing and Squadron Commanders would likely have been relieved for cause. . .

  23. The service academies produce either outstanding officers or the worst sort of game-playing reptiles. Think which sort this Administration prefers.

    As for Obama not going to Europe, it is the ultimate example. The whole damn world is standing there marching in direction, and he’s off in a corner by himself, pretending the crowd doesn’t matter to him.

    Our President is a nerd. A louche, geeky, socially inept nerd.

    • As a somewhat socially inept nerd, I resent being compared to the POTUS. He’s a dweeb, in my opinion, certainly a wus when it comes to anything that requires personal presence and responsibility for one’s own actions.

    • You just insulted nerds, Richard. 😉

    • You might like a terminology set my husband and the geek group came up with:

      Geek: pack/social form of nerd. (Socializes very well with other geeks or nerds.)
      Nerd: very good at some things, tends to be fannish on some subjects or other, lacks general social skills.

      The President is an inverse nerd; he has social skills enough to be popular, but isn’t “very good” at actually DOING stuff and doesn’t seem to have a strong passion for anything but being popular.

      A lot of the issue with socializing for geeks and nerds appears to be an inability to grasp why we should care about something.

      • This. Social skills but nothing else. Basically the high school politician writ large, just skipping any actual skills in organizing or directing anything. Apparently he also lacks in-person interpersonal skills, only shining while giving speeches from the script.

        There’s a reason the empty chair thing Eastwood did caused such howls and vicious counterassaults in the media. It hit far too close to the truth for them to let it slide unchallenged.

    • No, he isn’t a nerd. He’s a Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressive, a LIRP. He thinks, because they all do, that the sun rises from his naval and sets in his rectum. He has been petted and made much of most of his life, by the other LIRPs, while being either petted OR neglected by his family. He has an apalling ego, coupled with an ostentatious lack of actual talent for anything useful.

      Nerds are nowhere near as bad as LIRPs.

  24. Clark E Myers

    C4C – my first impression is to reverse – in my observation but I’m exceedingly dated – the education is adequate to pretty good but the training from admission onward is as noted political. AFAIK Ringknockers are in fact a declining breed in the American military by numbers.

    Dr. Pournelle has discussed at length the traditional role of the Marines in undeclared wars and the Army in declared wars. We now see the Army pushed hard in undeclared and unsupported wars. I am reminded of the post-script to the Court Martial in the Caine Mutiny where the defense attorney who broke down Captain Queeg (great performance by Humphrey Bogart but the book is worth reading) gave his I am a Jew and men like Captain Queeg kept the Navy a force in being through the depression. As I recall Dwight Eisenhower spent more than 15 years in grade as a Major while the Army endured budget cuts. David Eisenhower has said he regrets disappointing his father and grandfather by not pursuing a military career but that nobody at Phillips Exeter in his own day would ever consider any such thing. Literally unthinkable in that time and place and he himself never gave it a thought.

    But review Hackworth and Kratman on the modern Army et. al. I’ll never understand why there are no movies about Hackworth.

  25. Haven’t read any of the comments yet. But, I will disagree on the admissions process. If you want to get in, and if the Academy in question wants you- you will get in. The admissions office will steer you to a congresscritter who hasn’t yet used his appointment who will give one. I’m a USNA non-graduate. Didn’t make it all the way through. Eldest son is a USMA graduate. We have no political clout. Son 2 was on active duty and turned down an appointment to USMAPS- he had other plans for his life. Son 3- NPQ for service. Son 4 is 16, hasn’t made up his mind. Only daughter had zero interest. Not surprising, considering her parents…

    And Eagle Scout (or Gold Star for young woman) is a much better asset for a candidate in the application process then almost any other factor. Shows an ability to set a goal and accomplish something. Good grades? Ultra-high SAT’s? Some people just get them with no real effort. Eagle Scout? You worked for it. Son 4 is currently a Life Scout. As a parent, you need to steer your kids towards activities that will help them later in life. Music? Baseball? Football? Dance? Chess club? All those extra-curricular activities don’t hurt- but neither do they provide life skills.

    • Your experience is a great deal different from that of my son and a number of others we know. They were more qualified — and some were Eagle Scouts — than some who were given appointments by the congresscritters. Do some get lucky? Yes, fortunately. But the vast majority gain entry via appointment and most of those who don’t get appointments don’t know there are other ways to get in.

      And I will give you that Eagle Scouts show a determination and dedication to setting a goal and accomplishing it. However, there are other ways out there as well. Whether it should be a major factor or not, that gets away from the point of my post. I will say congrats on your sons and thanks for their service, and for your own.

  26. Thanks Sarah

    The most interesting thing about Kennedy’s comments is it was him, the standard bearer for modern American liberal politics, that said it.

    You tell a modern libprog those comments, most of them won’t know who said them. Most of them won’t believe you when you tell them it was Kennedy. I’ve told a few, and watched their heads explode.

    You just made my day, Sarah. Thank you

  27. Spent 25 years on active duty in the Army as an enlisted man and NCO. From that, I think I’ve got the background necessary to render an opinion on the various sources of commission used by the Army.

    Say what you will about the product of the academies–I’ve never, ever encountered a mediocre example. They’ve all either been the worst ones I ever worked for or around, or they were the best. No such thing as an “in-betweener”. I’ve also never run into one that was poorly educated, either–They all had, as one put it, a fifty-thousand dollar a year education shoved up their asses a nickel at a time. Unlike the products of many ROTC programs, I’ve never found myself going down a rathole trying to explain fairly simple cultural reference to one of them, either. It’s scary as hell to be dealing with a Stanford-educated Lieutenant that has no earthly idea who Sisyphus might be, or what part of the Western canon he might derive from. I don’t know what a lot of university programs are teaching, these days, but West Point is about the only one I know of that’s not cutting any corners off of things.

    The only other academy I have personal experience with is the Merchant Marine Academy, and I have to say that absolutely ALL of those young men were outstanding. I don’t know what the difference is, or if I just got lucky with the ones I worked around and for, but they impressed the hell out of me. All hard-working, very smart, very grounded–Which is not something you see all the time from West Pointers. Maybe the ones that aren’t like that go into the Merchant Marine, but I don’t think so–I met a few of those, too, and they struck me as much the same caliber of officer.

    One of the first things you try to figure out about a new officer you have put over you as a senior NCO is where they earned their commission, and what their actual background is. With the West Pointers, you know you’re either dealing with an out-of-control frat boy, or a dreadfully earnest young Eagle Scout type. Probably their biggest flaw as a group is that the time they spend at the Academy gives them a very idealized view of the Army–From an Academy perspective, you think everything is just like it is in the books, and when you encounter reality after joining your first real unit, the shock can be very disillusioning to the earnest types. The idea that low-level politics might play a role in things blows their minds, and they have a lot of trouble with the discovery that things don’t always work the way the book lays it out. Which is why a bunch of them throw in their towels early, and depart the service as soon as they can. For awhile there, we had the highest rate of officer attrition from the Academy.

    OCS provides a much different product than West Point–You’ve got mostly people who already had college before joining as an enlisted person, who then decide to go for a commission. You get some very good officers from that source, but you also get some real jackasses who couldn’t make it as NCOs, and decided to take another route. Full range of competencies, here–Some are great, some are mediocre, and some are truly terrible officers.

    ROTC is about like OCS, in that there’s a wide range of quality. Biggest difference is that they’re generally young, without life experience, and truly, stellarly naive about a whole lot of things. ROTC-sourced officers can be some really great guys to work for, and they can be horrible. Usually, when I was having my ass chewed for something stupid that my LT got up to (generally against my advice and/or knowledge), that LT was a product of ROTC. The West Pointers were usually making mistakes that got their asses chewed in private by the Colonel, and the OCS guys generally weren’t that dumb, having made their mistakes as junior enlisted scum. That’s just the way it was.

    Personally, if I were doing the design for a commissioning system, I’d likely require the candidates to join as enlisted combat arms, and then make them prove they can follow, first. Succeed in that, and then we’ll send you off to West Point for either a full four-year college program, or if you’ve got some higher education already, we’ll fill in what you missed, and then do a short finishing course for officer indoctrination, the way they do at the UK’s Sandhurst. I’d throw out ROTC and OCS on general principles, because I don’t like the implications of the current de-facto class system that having a three-source system creates. I’d buy off on doing the general education stuff out in civilian universities, followed by the finishing course at West Point, but only to make up numbers and keep the system honest. You’d have to police the hell out of the academics, though–The rigor is obviously no longer there, in many civilian institutions.

    Getting rid of the service academies is a clear non-starter, however. Despite the fact that they aren’t producing a service-ready product, these days, the cultural differences between an Academy grad and your typical ROTC product are too vast. You need to have the Academy types around, if only to serve as cultural leavening for the other junior officers.

  28. Kirk, that’s what Heinlein did in Starship Troopers. Everybody started at the bottom.

    I did ROTC for 2 years and later AF Officer Training School. First assignment was pretty straightforward 0830-1630 job. Then I got sent to Missile Launch Officer training, and spent the next 9 years in the missile crew force. I had two prior-enlisted Lts.; looking back, I think they were a bit sharper than the others. The worst I had,he had had a AFA grad with a horribly bad attitude who was getting out of the AF some time previously as a crew commander, and that ruined him. I got him from a friend of mine; I was told by one of my superiors that I got him because they believed I could survive him. I’ve met some USCG folks; they’re serious people doing dangerous jobs. They have a saying: “You have to go out. You don’t have to come back.”

    • I told a young Coastie of our acquaintance that it would be fine with us if he came back from his pending Gulf deployment. He told me the bureaucrats running the Coast Guard these days from DHS were actually trying to promote an officially-approved “unofficial motto” that was full of so much officious armchair bumf and bushwah I promptly forgot it when he quoted it to me. Fortunately for those at peril on the sea, they still act on the “unofficial” “officer motto.”

  29. Just a bit of military history that is mostly true. Don’t know about other areas of the world, but in the British and British descended navies, commissions were always earned. You had to pass an actual exam or prove yourself, but the commission was alway (theroetically) earned. In the land forces, anywhere, (except apparently Prussia and the Imperial Russian Army) you could earn- or buy- a commission. And in the early days of the U.S., militia officers were often elected by their men, not selected. I don’t think the buying of commissions goes on anywhere anymore. There were some advantages to serving under an officer who had purchased his commission. He wasn’t dependent on the Crown for his livelihood. If he received an order that was absymally stupid, and recognized its’ stupidity, he could say no. The consequences might be- he’d lose his commission, not his livelihood. He was also invested in the status quo, and thus much less likely to engage in treason against the crown. The disadvantages of course, included that you might have a total incompetent with inherited wealth who bought a commission.

    • I read a book a while back – I think but cannot swear it was MR. KIPLING’S ARMY – that went into some detail on the political and practical fallout of the move,to do away with the purchase system. One major one was the necessity of buying out all the sold commissions extant. There were a lot of sudden promotions. As I understand it one could only purchase up to a certain level (major? colonel?); after that promotion HAD to be by merit AND you could no-longer recoup your investment by “selling out”. There are cultural steriotypes about doltish retired senior officers that stem from this.

      Sorry I can’t remember more. Doubtless someone else here will have more details.

      • I went away and read more; the top purchased rank was (for the most part) colonel, and this is why Major-Generals are traditional figures of fun in Victorian culture (Pirates of Penzance, anyone?).

  30. Semper Paratus, you have to go out– you don’t have to go back, “Semper Gumby,”– very popular in any group that prizes…creativity….

    Apparently Semper Paratus– “always ready”– is the traditional motto and is in their song for the last century, but there was a fad about mid-90’s to 9/11 to make up a TON of new “mottoes” for the services. The only one I know that stuck is the one for Naval Base Coronado, “Don’t Be That Guy.”

  31. This may have been one of those Just-So stories, but I remember reading about a fortification to be taken out during D-Day. The major tasked to lead the assault was killed before landing. So was his captain understudy. A new butterbar met the odds-and-sods able to make it to the meeting site, looked over the fortifications and drew out some quick sketches on how to proceed. As I remember, his plans are still taught on how to assault fortified positions with small number of men. The story did not say if he was an Academy grad, or a 90-Day Wonder.

  32. Have you ever read the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser?
    I recommend them highly.

    • Didn’t enjoy them.

      Now, his semi-autobiographical ones, starting with The General Danced At Dawn, those were good.

      • Because he was a rotter, a cad, a gambler, a wencher, a coward, and a besides that thoroughly bad guy (but lucky/fortunate regardless)? I can totally accept that. And yes, the non-fiction was quite good.

  33. I know this is really late. Read “Riding the Red Horse” edited by Vox Day and Tom Kratman for a taste of what war in the near future is going to be like.
    Wars are starting to revert to the historical way wars were fought. Barbra Truchman’s history of the 14th century wars is a description that’s a good introduction. That is, wars will no longer be fought between states. And that’s something the U.S. military needs to learn how to fight.

  34. I retired from the Air Force with 25 years Service, in the grade of Colonel. I got my commission through ROTC. I knew many Academy graduates (mostly Air Force Academy, but also West Point and Annapolis in my “joint service” assignments). I had a good impression of all of them. They were not only well trained but well educated. I think all three Academies do a good job. I also think that, for the most part, ROTC does a good job as well. However, there are some differences. A larger proportion of ROTC graduates tend to have engineering or technical degrees than is the case for Academy graduates. They (we) end up in different places in the Services than do the Academy graduates. As an engineer, I spent almost my entire career in R&D. However, I brought to that R&D a military perspective that someone without an ROTC background would lack. To sum up, don’t mess with the Service academies. They’re for the most part doing a good job. Don’t mess with ROTC either. For the most it’s doing a good job.