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Opinion

Open letter To LTG Darryl Williams, 60th Superintendent Of The United States Military Academy

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17 March 2022

Open letter to LTG Darryl Williams, 60th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy:

LTG Williams,

On March 14, 2022, you sent the following letter to the Long Gray Line via email regarding allegations of cadet criminal misconduct in Florida:

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March 14, 2022

Members of the Long Gray Line,

As many of you know, the United States Military Academy has been working through a serious incident involving several Cadets. The health and safety of all our Cadets is my top concern and priority. I ask that you refrain from speculating or commenting on the details of any ongoing investigation.

Initial reports indicate that four Cadets were transported to nearby hospitals in various conditions while on spring break in Florida after allegedly being exposed to a substance that may have contained Fentanyl. As of today, all but one Cadet has been released. We will continue to support any ongoing investigation, and once completed, we will take appropriate action to ensure the health and safety of our Cadets and to maintain good order and discipline within the Corps.

America looks to the Academy to develop leaders who embody the highest level of character. Character development is the most important thing we do here at the Academy. Good order and discipline are vitally important to our success. Therefore, illegal drugs of any kind have no place at West Point, in our Army, or in our Military.

The Academy remains committed to educating, training, and inspiring the Corps of Cadets. I encourage Cadets to take care of each other and themselves. Thank you for your continued commitment to West Point.

Darryl A. Williams
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army
Superintendent

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Your letter to the Long Gray Line regarding cadets purchasing and overdosing on drugs is deeply concerning.  As Superintendent, you have neither the authority nor the right to restrain the freedom of speech of graduates of the Unites States Military Academy.  As grads we have as much right as any American to address grievances with our country and our alma mater.  Further, your use of the phrase “exposed to a substance” is very different than the alleged reality that they willfully and purposefully purchased and ingested cocaine.  As the Superintendent of USMA and guardian of the Honor Code, this borders into equivocation of events to mitigate the damage to West Point’s reputation.  What happened to the Cadet Prayer that challenges us 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?”

More importantly, West Point has a recent history of serious ethical problems.  In 2013 LTG David Huntoon, 58th Superintendent of USMA, retired from his post and received a letter of reprimand for unethical conduct with subordinates. (1)  The 59th Superintendent, LTG Robert Caslen, became President of the University of South Carolina after retiring from the Army, only to resign in 2021 over allegations of plagiarism. (2) In 2020 we learned of an online cheating scandal involving 73 cadets.  2021 saw the shameful treatment and expulsion of unvaccinated cadets revealed on national news and a controversial preoccupation with social issues.  In 2022, cadets on spring break allegedly purchasedand overdosed on cocaine laced with other drugs.

This follows on the heels of America’s longest war ending in embarrassment and disaster in Kabul in 2021.  For nearly 2 decades, general officers (many of whom were West Point grads) failed the people of the United States with their false and misleading assessments of the war that led to the loss of trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives, and global standing.  The United States left behind $87 billion dollars of military equipment, needlessly sacrificed 13 more service members, abandoned American civilians to the enemy, and begged terror organizations to allow us to escape.  At a recent class reunion, when confronted with the Afghanistan debacle and asked what West Point, the pre-eminent military leadership institution in the world, was doing to analyze the actions and behavior of senior American military leaders, West Point’s current Dean (a BG and USMA graduate) replied everything was great and did not foresee the need for any changes.  He was flanked by another USMA graduate BG who went on to caution USMA graduates about not believing “misinformation” in the news and that Kabul was not as bad as we think and further that the US Military was as ready as ever to fight and win wars.

There is no denying that West Point, and the military at large, has serious leadership problems.  While the behaviors of the individuals involved don’t reflect on all cadets and recent graduates, the gravity and frequency of the events indicate there is a significant underlying institutional problem.  While West Point’s leaders may have tried to address ethical shortcomings at the academy, they still invited LTG (retired) Huntoon back to West Point in 2015 as a guest speaker in Eisenhower Hall to discuss West Point history despite his unethical past.  Recently, West Point allowed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the honor to stand with the cadets during the Army-Air Force Game in Dallas, TX after recently speaking on national TV and deflecting all blame for Afghanistan. The current leadership is obviously failing to train military leaders to win America’s wars and is also not providing leaders of character for the nation.  None of these problems are solved by ‘hiding them’ through silence or calling investigative news “misinformation.”  It appears that the recent ethical makeover of West Point and the military has borne only costly military disaster, denialism, and cocaine parties.  While winning football games, building a beautiful campus, and earning Rhodes Scholarships are nice touches, the sole reason for West Point’s existence is to train officers to win wars.  Period.

The long gray line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.” This quote is engraved on the Douglas MacArthur monument next to your official house on the Plain.  Perhaps current West Point leaders shouldreread this sage advice from a West Point graduate, former Superintendent, and combatant commander who not only knew how to win wars and behave honorably but actually did both. 

John Hughes

USMA Class of 1996 (#1 graduate)

3rd Generation West Pointer

4 combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan

American Doctor

This article reflects the opinion of the author and not of any organization or corporation.

(1)   “West Point Superintendent misused his office IG says.” Craig Whitlock. www.washingtonpost.com.  14 June 2013

(2)  “University president resigns after plagiarizing part of a speech by the Former Head of US Special Operations Command.”  Amanda Jackson.  Cnn.com  13 May 2021

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15 comments

D3F1ANT March 18, 2022 at 1:23 pm

Williams doesn’t care about anything the author mentions. Like the rest of the federal government, the military has been coopeted by the Left and the academies turned into radically Woke, Leftist indoctrination machines. They act like a microcosm of the Democrat Party: tyrannize, deny, lie, cover-up, avoid responsibility, hold nobody to account.

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Charles B. Van Duzer March 18, 2022 at 1:35 pm

So, druggies now have a place at West Point? Expel the six and give them the dishonorable discharge they earned.

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Freeland-Dave March 18, 2022 at 1:57 pm

Small complaint about the article. West Point in New York is not the nation’s military academy. There is the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs CO., the Navy Academy at Annapolis, MD and the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. and the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point NY. Poor Journalism.

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CDMedia March 18, 2022 at 1:59 pm

You really should do some research before you comment, it makes you look uninformed, which obviously you are. The correct title of the institution is the United States Military Academy. USMA

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OldCombatEngineer March 19, 2022 at 2:12 pm

WP has historically been the preeminent academy for military education in United States, as well as the nation’s initial source for formally educated engineers. Besides providing military leadership, graduates before the Civil War turned built roads, railroads, and levees, and they mapped much of the nation during early decades of the US. The USNA was founded 43 years after West Point, and the other academies are later products.

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P. Brown March 18, 2022 at 4:39 pm

Time for reflective practice from our leaders. I think Freud would have pointed out that denial is going to come back to bite…maybe a cue for some introspection and rethinking…

I am happy to consult.

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Conway poppa March 18, 2022 at 8:32 pm

John Hughes is right on. A great man to have at your side. I would not want to have to send my son into battle with the likes of “woke” Gen. Darryl Williams. What is he turning out ? Quitters, losers, deserters? I feel sorry for those with his name on their graduation papers. They will always be known as the ‘Woke Boys” regardless of how accomplished they are.
Why do the cucks at the top always want to place other cucks into sensitive positions. Stupidity or perfidy?

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John Sullivan March 19, 2022 at 3:56 am

I wonder what races the Cadets are which will guide what actions USMA wall take against them. We are no longer a nation of laws.

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Jeff March 19, 2022 at 2:08 pm

Spot on and well said. The Supe and Monken both need to resign.

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Liz March 20, 2022 at 1:22 am

Thank YOU This conversation is long overdue and much needed…

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Grad from the 90s March 20, 2022 at 4:47 pm

I’d challenge you to take half the amount of time you spent highlighting the very small percentage of cadets that have made bad choices throughout the history of the academy and invest it into researching the thousands of phenomenal leaders of character that have graduated and done great things for our country. Come visit sometime and engage with our great team.

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John Hughes March 21, 2022 at 12:10 am

Reply to Grad from the 90s:
Thank you for your comment. I see your comment as addressing one aspect of the primary issue (that of poor leadership) which is broken down into the two topics I highlighted. History judges the service academies not by the extracurricular activities of the cadets, but rather by how wars are fought and won. The first topic is that West Point’s current leadership is allowing the unethical and criminal behavior of the few to continue and sully the reputation of the majority. The second topic is the apparent tone deafness of the current leadership to the purpose of West Point. Case-in-point, the Dean told our class at our 25th Reunion that he plans to do no reflecting on how West Point should re-evaluate its curriculum to prevent the creation of future general officers that will act selfishly and unethically and generate further military disasters like Afghanistan. As a fellow grad of the 90s who is fully aware of the numerous great leaders who rose from our ranks and who is honored to stand next to honorable graduates, the handling of USMA’s attitude towards winning wars and ethics violations is cheapening the sacrifices we all made in combat and at home since graduation.

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70's Grad March 21, 2022 at 8:19 am

Excellent commentary! Nails the issues of the academy as I see them, and particularly with this and the other named superintendents.

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Col. (R) David R McLaughlin March 22, 2022 at 2:50 am

In April the class of ’62 will be holding its 60th reunion. We have a lot of questions to ask the Superintendent & Commandant. We have been asking them for the past two years and not received the courtesy of comprehensive answers. At one point the Superintendent even refused to take any calls and/or letters from graduates. There are a fairly large group of graduates who have or recently have had sons and daughters attending the Academy. We have heard their stories and they are not like anything the currents Academy leadership states about what the situation actually at the Academy. The way I see it, we have a large group of flag rank who care more about their personal affairs and in the positions of the good life and their next promotion than adhering to the principals that gave West Point it reputation. Cadets lying, cheating on exams, doing drugs, and having CRT indoctrination forced upon them are all reflections of poor leadership. The cadets follow the examples of their leaders. It would be in the best interests of the U.S. Military Academy if the senior officers presently assigned there resign in mass from 06 and up. That’s right Supp. take the harder right rather than the easier wrong. but I will bet that you won’t

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Jan Taylor March 25, 2022 at 10:43 am

COL McLaughin, Sir, in 60 those years, I know you’ve witnessed many changes at “Our Rockbound Highland Home” because it certainly isn’t true what they say at the Air Force Academy that West Point is a “school distinguished by over 200 years of tradition unhampered by progress.” And to have been there when MacArthur made his final visit and his “Duty, Honor, Country…” speech to in May of 1962 must have been awe-inspiring.

I hope you do get an opportunity to speak with the Superintendent, LTG Darryl Williams. I wouldn’t feel too distressed that he hasn’t fully answered your queries to date. He’s very busy, too busy I hear to even respond “comprehensively” to the calls by our members of Congress. If you do get an opportunity to ask him something, you may want to clear up the question of whether any of the Ft. Lauderdale cadets accused of being “exposed to a substance” were members of the 73 cadets he allowed to return after being separated after cheating on a calculus final exam. Fifty-two of the cheaters were athletes, many of whom were football players. If it’s true, as cadet rumor would have it, he may want to expound on his theory of second chances for violators of the honor code, especially if they are football players.

I’m sure something hasn’t changed in the last sixty years at West Point and that is high academic standards. Today, some cadets are separated for failing one, or in rare cases, two classes. Don’t pay attention to cadet rumor that some “special” cadets are allowed to fail 3, 4, 5 or even six classes. Sometimes these special category cadets, who can fail the same class 3 times, are allowed to take the class at a civilian university, and if they pass, are welcomed back to the Corps. Talk about second (third, fourth…) chances!

The West Point campus is more beautiful than ever. One thing that hasn’t changed in over 60 years or really in the over 200 years, is that cadets are more informed about what goes on within the hallowed halls of West Point than the colonels and the generals believe or remember – and they don’t forget and they take what they learned into the Army and on to positions of power and privilege in industry and government.

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