- - Friday, February 3, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION

“Victory in war begins with a shine on a boot.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte

I recently wrote an article on my shock, during my 30th reunion at the U.S. Air Force Academy, at the lack of discipline and training and how the academy no longer is focused on training warriors. “This is no longer a military academy, it’s UCLA in uniforms,” I wrote.

I received hundreds of comments with a ratio of 100-1, positive to negative, from people of all walks of life, grads, just plain concerned civilians, or other military personnel. Let me say up front: This is not a slam on individual cadets. It is not their fault. It is a critique of the leadership, who believe it is within their right to throw away thousands of years of human experience in warfare of what makes an effective fighting force.

I’ve personally been on missions, where after flying more than 14 hours to the target, air refueling multiple times at night on night-vision goggles, only to arrive at the target within a window of plus or minus 5 seconds with more than 50 other aircraft were involved. Missions where firing your weapons at the wrong time or place, or even at the wrong elevation or field of fire, could get people killed, or even worse, cause the mission to fail. We saw the results of lack of coordination in the carnage of the Iranian hostage rescue attempt in 1980. Attention to detail and the ability to work as a team, irrespective of your individual desires, is absolutely critical. This is what the academy used to teach, performance under pressure, day after day after day. The institution no longer teaches this because the leadership no longer thinks it is important.

The following is an angry reaction from a member of the 1960 class at the academy’s performance marching in the 2017 Inaugural Parade in Washington. He’s right. My daughter’s high school band marches better than what these cadets displayed. They are not being trained to fight as a unit. They are being taught that individuality matters. That their feelings matter. It is a PC sickness, that must be eradicated from our military.

You can say that this is just a rant from old geezers who just think things aren’t like they used to be when I was there. You can say that we really don’t know what is going on under the surface at the academy. I would encourage you to give more serious thought to that reaction. I would say that what we see are symptoms of a much larger problem.

These are experienced men, graduates, who care about the institution, who care about the United States Air Force. That is why they are taking the time to speak up. They care about the U.S. Air Force Academy, its mission, and are sick at what it has become.

So we are speaking out.

Shame in Washington

This from Les Querry to the Class of 1960:

“Photos became available showing the USAFA cadets marching in the 2017 Inaugural Parade. The images were so appalling that I placed them on our Class website. Having gathered more images, I’m doing a final vent to the Class.

“I am thoroughly disgusted at the photos of the cadets at this year’s parade. Check out those “straight” columns. And this was during the “eyes left” pass in review for the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, with the whole world watching…

“1957: We and the air training officers (ATOs) applied ourselves selflessly to provide the country with a worthy first impression of the new Air Force Academy.

“2017: Sloppy; some 180 out-of-step, some heads up, some down, some eyes up, some down, some caps high, some low. All appear to be unique individuals on parade. Along with the cadet up front, the three cadets shown in the back are also 180 out of step. Can you imagine what this college-kid gaggle must have looked like in motion? Check the variation of the position of the individual feet. You could have gotten seasick looking at them.

You can even read Gen. Twining’s message to USAFA in 1957.

Too bad that his statement “This display.. will be an inspiration to all future cadets…” did not come true. He forgot to add “..and their leaders..”

Some might say that it isn’t important today for cadets to march with any precision. That’s for drill teams and marching bands. But these cadets are supposedly being trained to be able to perform in well-synchronized military operations that will require timely individual contributions with no room for individuality. They need to realize that each of them is individually contributing to an operation that is larger than themselves. When else in their daily routines do they get the experience of operating in unison?

The photos do show a lot more than cadets trying to march. It seems to show them operating in a strange environment, that of coordinating with others in which they depend on others and others depend on them (not unlike daily life in the Air Force. huh?)”

I’ve witnessed the same “individuality” attitude even back in 1995, when lunching with the cadets in the dining hall (something that I’ve resolved to never do again). The total lack of decorum was annoyingly obvious.

I actually do not fault the cadets and am very sorry that they may receive the brunt of the criticism and embarrassment for this unfortunate display. It is the failure of the personnel that are supposed to be training them. Our training personnel were the nation’s finest, the ATOs and their seniors. We hated them then, but revere them now. But over the years the standards appear to have gradually changed with each change of command.

The academy appears to be oblivious to its own poor showing in the parade.

You can see some of the photos of the academy cadets at the 2017 Inaugural Parade, at the 1957 Inaugural Parade, and a USAF message regarding the 1957 parade.

The standards have changed, and like we used to say, “The Wing is going to Hell.”

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