I take issue with this propaganda in a paragraph by paragraph review, leaving the ‘anonymous’ authors entire original cowardly attack intact to avoid any appearance of attempting to cherry pick the stupidity. Leaving it in reduced italics, I will attempt to counter with just the facts mostly leaving out the wokeness and will not debate the authors ‘moral hazard’ arguments as they are irrelevant to the discussion.
You are beginning your careers at a tumultuous time. More than 110,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, more than 40 million are unemployed, and our nation is hurting from racial, social and human injustice. Desperation, fear, anxiety, anger, and helplessness are the daily existence for too many Americans. These are difficult times, but we are confident you will rise to the challenge and do your part as leaders in our Army.
Just like all propaganda, this manifesto begins with a triggering statement. Now that we have hit every woke topic and ineptly attempted to justify the domestic violence and ongoing armed insurrection of our country perhaps this would be a good time to point out the real threats that these new graduates will more likely need to contend with. In the authors eyes the horrifying prospect of using authorized military force as a last resort to restore domestic order is a far greater risk than the threats posed by our ongoing wars on terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. Further, the increasing and omnipresent threat posed by China, Russia, and Iran I guess don’t make the cut either. But for someone with more than a dozen combat deployments in my 20 years service, I bet you don’t have to guess where I lay the odds of our next armed engagements of real consequence taking place.
Lastly these are all domestic political issues that the authors claim military personnel should be above, and not politicize, ridiculous. As officers we don’t make policy and it is not even our place to contemplate it, ours is to carry out the lawful orders and commanding the forces we have been entrusted to lead, PERIOD. The Joint Chiefs are ADVISORS to the civilian leadership, there to present options. The civilian leadership makes the call, the chiefs are to carry out those decisions. Those that study military history all know that Carl von Clausewitz wrote that war is politics by other means. This is why we have civilian leadership of the military so that the Government, not the military commanders make the decisions on how, where, when and why to engage. In the US military it’s prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for military personnel to make certain political statements. Moreover, we are prohibited from openly criticizing the national command structure, PERIOD.
Like the classes before you, the Class of 2020 comes with varied life experiences from across America and beyond. You represent the country’s diversity of race, ethnicity, identity and beliefs. Your West Point journey has led you to this moment when, with right hands raised, you take an oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This oath has no expiration date. The burden of responsibility and accountability will both weigh on and inspire you for your entire life. Oaths are solemn, public promises with significant meaning and moral gravity. When they are broken, the nation suffers.
In the classic Alynsky style of accusing your enemies of what you are guilty of, West Point’s record on civil rights and equality are perhaps the most dismal in our country. They for decades forced the practice of ‘The Silencing’ on every black cadet by ostracizing them for their entire 4 years, and many far worse. They should be the last to lecture or preach on this topic.
But here we can finally start addressing some real meat. Yes you WILL be taking an oath, and yes it WILL be to the Constitution which for all intents and purposes IS THE GOVERNMENT, it’s WE THE PEOPLE you will answer to, as it is the guiding document that authorizes and governs it. Since the Constitution firmly places the President as sole Commander in Chief of said military you are then taking an oath to obey the chain of command which begins and ends with that office. Further, you will be Commissioned. We will talk more about both further down. Suffice to say that your oath does require you to fight all enemies foreign AND DOMESTIC. Armed individuals committing crimes, looting, arson, extortion, and in the case of Seattle, actually OCCUPYING areas of our country and declaring that area a separate country are not peaceful protests protected by the Constitution but can be designated domestic enemies. An enemy force has not held territory in the continental 48 since 1812, this IS a crisis. It’s an INSURRECTION, and if the President decides the military is required to put it down, and restore order, it IS ready. So if you take the oath, you had best be ready too.
The oath taken by those who choose to serve in America’s military is aspirational. We pledge service to no monarch; no government; no political party; no tyrant. Your oath is to a set of principles and an ideal expressed in the Constitution and its amendments. Our Constitution establishes freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of religion, of equal protection under the law regardless of race, color, or creed — we cannot take for granted these freedoms that are but dreams in too many nations around the world.
By accepting your commission, you incur a moral purpose and obligation to provide for the common defense. In doing so you enable the nation to fulfill the full range of its aspirations. Today, our Constitutional aspirations remain unfulfilled.
No the oath you take is not ‘aspirational’ it’s contractual, so get your heads out of the clouds and stop dreaming about unicorns. That oath requires you to support and defend the Constitution and it purposely leaves out what the enlisted oath includes because as a COMMISSIONED OFFICER it would be redundant to your commissioned status and that is to follow the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over you. You see, unlike the enlisted personnel you will lead, your are Commissioned not Contracted, and if you don’t know the difference you best find out before taking the oath and swearing to it. You as an officer are given that commission BY and at the AUTHORITY of the President and the President alone. You are not ENTITLED. You serve at his or her pleasure, PERIOD. The concept of commissioning officers goes back way before the Roman Empire, but the Continental Congress decided to continue the practice when they decided to entrust the office of the President with the sole authority for the military and the defense of the country as Commander in Chief, they needed to hold the office accountable. Commissioning gives the President the ability to retain both the authority which he passes to his officers as well as the responsibility for your conduct. The President also swears to uphold and safeguard the Constitution and with all due respect, aspirations, wokeness and kumbaya have no place in his decision making. He must uphold the Constitution and the Laws of the Land, PERIOD, and for EVERYONE. If you don’t like the law, Congress must change them – otherwise drive on. The intent of the Constitution is clear in the Preamble… “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”. Most officers have never read the Constitution to which they swear to uphold and I would not administer the oath to one that didn’t. It takes about 20 minutes to read it, so get busy. Sorry, there are no pictures so if the words get too big to understand for a Pointer, get a tutor.
The abhorrent murder of George Floyd has inspired millions to protest police brutality and the persistence of racism. Sadly, the government has threatened to use the Army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests. Worse, military leaders, who took the same oath you take today, have participated in politically charged events. The principle of civilian control is central to the military profession. But that principle does not imply blind obedience. Politicization of the Armed Forces puts at risk the bond of trust between the American military and American society. Should this trust be ruptured, the damage to the nation would be incalculable. America needs your leadership.
Again the authors attempt to race bait, gaslight and inflame racial discord. I won’t debate this issue as its the mob rule 3rd rail but the comment I will make is the complete disregard for the Constitutionally PROTECTED right of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and these cowards have already acted as judge and jury in the matter. Moreover, the entire letter attempts to no only justify the current lawlessness, for which there is no rational justification, but also to turn the military against its elected civilian leadership. It’s treason in my opinion.
What I will take issue with is again the authors failure to acknowledge that the President is REQUIRED to maintain the peace, to ensure liberty, happiness, (i.e. enforce the LAW) to say nothing of the organized, funded, armed insurrection currently taking place in several cities. If you don’t have the fortitude to close with, engage, and destroy the enemy, foreign or domestic, don’t take the oath. You will be happier as a barista, so pay the taxpayers back the $500,000 West Point tuition and find a different line of work. Your OATH demands that you be able to fight ‘ALL ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC’.. again.. PERIOD. Far better men and women have come before you that have upheld their oath, and all gave some and some gave all.
Your commitment to your oath will be tested throughout your career. Your loyalty will be questioned, and some will attempt to use it against you. Loyalty is the most abused attribute of leadership. Weak or self-serving leaders will emphasize loyalty over duty under the guise of “good order and discipline.” Unfortunately, some will make a Faustian bargain and endeavor to please their commanders and advance their own careers rather than take care of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in combat — which is not just a problem, it is a disgrace. America needs your leadership.
This is your first test, as this letter is demanding that you break that oath before you even take it. The woke mob demands that you shirk your responsibilities and listen to them (they no longer have authority), not to the nation, and to disregard the chain of command in the name of social wokeness. As an aside, these individuals who have signed this letter, if on active duty or retired collecting pay are not just wrong, they are committing a COURT MARTIAL OFFENSE. That’s right sports fans, just because you retire does not mean the long reach of the UCMJ can’t get to you. When you raise your hand and take the oath, ironically, you lose some of the constitutionally protected rights you are now under oath bound to protect. You no longer have complete freedom of speech for example. You would do well to read the UCMJ right after you finish reading the Constitution because these are the laws you now live under. Specifically UCMJ articles 2 and 88 apply here, these officers should be brought back on active duty, article 32 investigations conducted, and tried accordingly.
We, a diverse group of West Point graduates, are concerned. We are concerned that fellow graduates serving in senior-level, public positions are failing to uphold their oath of office and their commitment to Duty, Honor, Country. Their actions threaten the credibility of an apolitical military. We ask you to join us in working to right the wrongs and to hold each other accountable to the ideals instilled by our alma mater and affirmed by each of us at graduation.
These individuals seem to believe that as ‘West Pointers’ their school’s ideals or their moral compass (which I question) are more important than their now Commissioned obligations that they are constitutionally bound to uphold. Again, the UCMJ determines if an officer has committed treason, insubordination, and/or failed to follow lawful orders.
Your West Point education is both a profound gift and a sacred obligation. Our Nation has invested in you and entrusts you with demonstrating the values we expect of our leaders. They rightfully expect some return on that investment. You have the support of the entire nation as well as the heartfelt bonds of our alma mater.
No your taxpayer FUNDED education is not a GIFT, a gift implies it was given with nothing expected in return. The $500,000 education the taxpayers funded is EXPECTED to be repaid with honorable service to the country up to and including sacrificing your life in its defense. If you are unable to honorably serve and faithfully carry out the duties of the office upon which you are about to enter, dig deep, pay it back, and go become a community organizer.
It is imperative that West Point graduates work daily to serve as “leaders of character.” When leaders betray public faith through deceitful rhetoric, quibbling, or the appearance of unethical behavior, it erodes public trust. When fellow graduates acquiesce to bullying, and fail to defend honorable subordinates, it harms the nation and the Long Gray Line. When fellow graduates fail to respect the checks and balances of government, promote individual power above country, or prize loyalty to individuals over the ideals expressed in the Constitution, it is a travesty to their oath of office.
Oh, so like when you publicly admonish the President (the Commander in Chief) in public, call for newly commissioned officers to evade their oath of office and openly call for insubordination… that kind of honorable, character laden leadership, fools? Military officers don’t get to pick and choose assignments, causes, or chase ideals… they don’t get to debate, they don’t get to question lawful orders, and certainly don’t get the protection of government checks and balances, they serve the President of the United States and the officers appointed over them in the defense of the nation. If their orders are unlawful (and you better know your UCMJ) then yes, you are duty bound to advise and/or not to follow them. If you are wrong, enjoy your stay at the federal prison at Ft. Leavenworth. The US military is the most professional and most lethal combat force on the planet, and its professionalism stems from the unqualified belief in and absolute following of the Chain of Command. Trust me, if someone makes a bad call it will be dealt with, harshly.
On the eve of your graduation and joining the Long Gray Line and the Army officer corps, we, the undersigned, are resolute in our efforts to hold ourselves accountable to the principles of Duty, Honor, Country in selfless service to the Nation. We will not tolerate those who “lie, cheat or steal.” We pledge to stand for the sacred democratic principle that all are treated equally, and each person has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is not about party; it is about principle. Our lifetime commitment is to the enduring responsibility expressed in the Cadet Prayer: “to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.”
Members of the Class of 2020, welcome to the Long Gray Line. We believe in you. We support you. As your lifetime journey of service begins, we pray that your class motto, “With Vision We Lead,” will prove prophetic. America needs your leadership.
These newly minted officers will be greeted into the force with open arms and given and an equal start. They will be entrusted with great responsibility, held to the highest account, and be mentored by probably the most combat experienced leadership our military has ever known, forged by 30 years of almost constant conflict. There will be zero tolerance for those who attempt to use their rank or position to grind on political issues, preach hate or racism, or wear Ernesto “Che” Guevara t-shirts under their uniforms.
Many will serve well, others will be weeded out for their inability to shift from their elitist service academy ivory tower where they think they know best and are the chosen few…. but to the rest I say, ooh-rah, Semper Fi, Aim High, and my fair winds and following seas be with you.
Concerned Members of the Long Gray Line, a coalition of over 700 West Point alumni from six decades of graduating classes who collectively served across ten presidential administrations.
I am glad to see they left out the words ‘Honorable Service’ since this letter is far from honorable, and I don’t know when they decided to become a coalition but as a retired officer I consider only my service to the country and my membership only to being AMERICAN, … not to my alma mater…
The citizens of the United States of America hold their military in the highest possible esteem. Poll after poll show Americans’ confidence in their military far outweighs that of any other government branch or agency. Those numbers exist because the 99.99% of military officers don’t write manifestos like this insubordinate collective of grey woketards.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Military Academy, United States Army.