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Jan 16, 2013

How to Stop Sexual Assault at Military Service ... - The Atlantic


Annapolis Capital

Sept 27, 2013

Our Say: The Naval Academy needs professor ... - Capital Gazette


Annapolis Capital
Dec 16, 2013

Guest Column: Alienating men on the topic of sexual assaults ...


Oct 16, 2012

NPR: Maybe We Don't Need the Military Academies



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Oct 18, 2012

WBUR Boston: Are U.S. Military Academies Worth the Money?


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Oct 8, 2012

Chronicle of Higher Education

The Few, The Proud, The Infantilized




October 8, 2012

The Few, the Proud, the Infantilized

By Bruce Fleming

Pat Kinsella for The Chronicle Review

The U.S. military-service academies—at West Point (Army), Annapolis (Navy), Colorado Springs (Air Force), and New London (Coast Guard)—are at the center of several debates, both military and civilian. The military is downsizing, and the federal budget is under scrutiny: Do the academies deserve to continue?

They're educational institutions, but do they actually educate, and furthermore, do they produce "leaders" as they claim to? And are they worth the $400,000 or so per graduate (depending on the academy) they cost taxpayers?

After all, we already have a federal program that produces officers—an average of twice as many as those who go to the academies (three times for the Army)—at a quarter of the cost. That program is ROTC, the Reserve Officer Training Corps, which has expanded considerably since World War II, when the academies produced the lion's share of officers.

No data suggest that ROTC officers are of worse quality than those graduating from the academies, who are frequently perceived by enlisted military as arrogant "ring-knockers" (after their massive old-style class rings). The academies evoke their glory days by insisting that many more admirals, say, come from Annapolis than from ROTC. But that is no longer true. Between 1972 and 1990 (these are the latest figures available), the percentage of admirals from ROTC climbed from 5 percent to 41 percent, and a 2006 study indicated that commissioning sources were not heavily weighted in deciding who makes admiral. 

Another officer-production pipeline is Officer Candidate School, which is about as large a source of officers as the academies. It gives a six- to 12-week training course for mature enlistees and college graduates who paid for their educations on their own (that is, did not participate in ROTC), and it costs taxpayers almost nothing. It could be expanded by pitching it to college students who might want to become officers when they graduate.

So the service academies are no longer indispensable for producing officers. Their graduates now make up only about 20 percent of the officer corps in any given year.  It's clear that we don't need the academies in their current form—versions of a kind of military Disneyland. These institutions do produce some fine officers, even some leaders. But the students I respect the most tell me that those who succeed do so despite the institutions, not because of them.

The best midshipmen—and, as I know through conversations and written correspondence, the best students at the other service academies—are deeply angry, disillusioned, and frustrated. They thought the academies would be a combination of an Ivy League university and a commando school. They typically find that they are neither.

Most of what the Naval Academy's PR machine disseminates is nonsense, as midshipmen quickly realize, which diminishes their respect for authority. We announce that they're the "best and brightest" and then recruit students who would be rejected from even average colleges, sending them, at taxpayer expense, to our one-year Naval Academy Prepatory School. (About a quarter of recent entering classes over the last decade or so has SAT scores below 600, some in the 400s and even 300s. Twenty percent of the class needs a remedial pre-college year.)

The academies do have a handful of honors programs, and their engineering programs are nationally ranked. But for the most part, academics are lackluster despite an intense focus on grades. Although free time is granted or withheld based on GPA, an atmosphere exists in which studying isn't "cool," and freshmen, or plebes, aren't allowed to take the afternoon naps that would allow them stay awake in class. (Sleep deprivation is used to "teach" students how to stay awake on the job—except there is no evidence that working while sleep-deprived is something you can get better at.)

The academies' focus on physicality is largely lip service as well. We claim to promote fitness but then refuse to throw out students who repeatedly fail to pass physical tests. Gone are the days of "shape up or ship out": Nowadays we "remediate."

We also claim that students are "held to a higher moral standard," which suggests zero or low tolerance of wrongdoing. But the current emphasis on reducing attrition means that, as many midshipmen have told me, students get one "freebie," such as a DUI. Held to a higher moral standard? The students know that's a joke.

What else justifies our existence? Our most consistent justification is that we teach "leadership." We even make students take classes in the subject. Midshipmen roll their eyes. Leadership can't be taught, it can only be modeled.

The central paradox of the service academies is that we attract hard-charging "alpha" types and then make all their decisions for them. Students are told when to study and when to work out, whom they can date (nobody in their company), and when they can wear civilian clothes. All students must attend football games and cheer, and go to evening lectures and cultural events (where many sleep in their seats). The list goes on.

The academies are the ultimate nanny state. "When are they going to let me make some decisions?" one student asked in frustration. "The day I graduate?" This infantilization turns students passive-aggressive, and many of them count the years, months, and days until they can leave.

Decades of talking with students at the Naval Academy have convinced me that most dislike academic work because it is one more thing the students have to do. Why should they be interested? They're not paying for it. And Daddy isn't either, at least not more than any other taxpayer.

The military side of things suffers, too. Inspections are announced and called off at the last minute, or done sloppily. After all, everything is make-believe. Students aren't motivated to take care of their own uniforms or abide by the rules because they realize it's all just for show. Administrators want to make sure nobody gets hurt to avoid negative publicity, and as a result students are not pushed to their limits. They resent it. They come expecting Parris Island, but they get national historic landmarks where tourists come to feel proud of nice-looking young people.

Is there anything good about the academies? Absolutely: the students, by and large. You won't find a more focused, eager-for-a-challenge, desperate-to-make-a-difference group of young adults (whom we proceed to infantilize) anywhere. Some catch on quickly about the hype and don't let it bother them. They pragmatically view the academy as a taxpayer-supported means to an end they desperately want. And we have some bright students: About a quarter of entering freshmen have SAT scores above 700 with grades to match (but that is a far smaller proportion of high scorers than at the Ivies).   


 A handful are high performers. One of my students last year was a varsity swimmer, an English honors graduate in the top 5 percent of his class, and the "honor man" (single best performer) in his SEAL class at the famously brutal Basic Underwater Demolition training. That is gorgeous stuff, the ultimate combination of brains and brawn the academies say they produce. But how rare at Annapolis!—or indeed, anywhere.

Another of my students, a systems-engineering major, was in the top 1 percent of his class and is now doing graduate work at the University of Oxford. He also won, as a sophomore, a competition sponsored by Harvard's Kennedy School for his essay on how to filter out arsenic from Ganges Delta water by running it through fern leaves. At the reception given after his lecture, he was too young to drink the chardonnay. The following weekend he returned to Boston to run the Boston Marathon with the Naval Academy team. It's true, America: The service academies really can enroll outstanding students. But such students are the exception.

Whose fault is this generally disappointing state of affairs? Partly it's the gravitational pull of history. The service academies are relics of the 19th century. (Exception: The Air Force was split off from the Army after World War II and got its stand-alone academy as a postscript in l954.) At the time, they clearly represented progress. War had become more technical, and soldiers-in-training needed a technical education that colleges still largely devoted to Greek, Latin, and religion were unequipped to provide.

But the world has changed. Now most reputable colleges offer technical courses, and top-tier colleges and universities already produce many of our officers and leaders. At the same time, the academies have become more like civilian colleges, albeit rather strange ones. We now give a bachelor of science (to all majors, including English and history) rather than a certificate for a standard course of study as we initially did. Students walk to class rather than march; women were accepted starting in 1976; going to chapel is no longer mandatory. And now, of course, we enroll openly gay students.

The best students at the service academies are deeply angry, disillusioned, and frustrated.

Should we keep the academies? Maybe there's a place for them, if we can eliminate their worst flaws. The academies attract a certain type of student: hard-charging, military-oriented, with expectations of both physical and mental challenges. But the academies squander that rich resource. If we want to preserve the academies, and can accept the fact that they don't produce better officers than the cheaper routes of ROTC and Officer Candidate School, it should be possible to find a serviceable hull of a military educational institution under all the barnacles.

Of course, the administrators don't like to face facts. Their position at the top of a military pecking order means that nobody tells them bad news. Besides, their interest is in doing their three to four years and moving on. Reforming the service academies is a job for Congress, goaded by taxpayers.

We should consider first that what we do in the United States is the exception among comparable institutions in allied democracies. Most of those once-similar institutions have changed. None of our sister academies offer a whole alternative. But looking at other options can get us thinking.

The European academy we're spiritually closest to is Britain's Sandhurst (U.S. armed forces are patterned on the British). Sandhurst has shown that a prestigious national service academy can change fundamentally without giving up its central role in history or defense: It's gone out of the business of undergraduate education entirely. Rather than giving a four-year college experience to undergraduates of tender age, trying to combine academics with military training as it once did and as we still do, Sandhurst now offers military classroom subjects only to students who have matriculated elsewhere. So the students are older, and the program doesn't compete with college.

But it doesn't make sense in the United States to require everyone training to be an officer to take a yearlong military course after university, the way Britain does, because ROTC already exists at many universities. And we also have Officer Candidate School for both college graduates and those who are already enlisted.

The Belgian military academy gives a bachelor's degree, which we do and Sandhurst does not. But its range of technical subjects is even more limited than ours, and it offers no nontechnical courses. More important, it separates military activities from periods of academic study. You do nothing but academics for several months, then go off to crawl around in the dirt. Then you come back for more academics, and so on. It's one or the other, not both at the same time, as in this country.

At Saint-Cyr in France, students enter at about age 21 and stay for three years, graduating with a master's degree. Specialized training at a more advanced age in military schools makes sense in Europe in a way it may not in the United States, with our tradition of giving general education in the first two years of college. In Europe students receive that kind of education in high schools.

In Germany military students at the service academies wear civilian clothes and follow civilian protocol; in Australia the defense academy is contracted out to the University of New South Wales, though the students do wear military uniforms.

The military academy that is the closest to the American model—four-year undergraduate institutions—is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Royal Military College of Canada. The college has solved many of the problems of the U.S. academies by loosening control rather than increasing it, so that the clash of academics and military is buffered to some degree. Unlike in the United States, students may live off campus, marry, and be any age—older cadets are trained separately.

The easiest and least-intrusive fix for the American academies is thus to make them more like the RMC. Simply loosening students' leashes would solve a lot of our problems overnight.

But that wouldn't solve the fundamental one, which is that academic and military training, when stirred together, cancel each other out. We need to separate academics from military training, as in Belgium. Three months of total immersion in academics could be followed by a month of total immersion in military exercises. And here's what else U.S. military academies could do:

1. End the tradition of a class getting to practice its "leadership" on the class below it. Freshmen have to do a million newbie things (each academy has its own version). At the Naval Academy, plebes have to jog ("chop") in the hallways; "square" corners and yell something motivational, like "Beat Army, Sir!"; carry their hats in a certain way; address every upper-class student as "Sir" or "Ma'am"; and yell menus for the day at top speed. Each class reports to and is ranked by the classes above it.  


 The theory behind student-on-student "leadership" is that students become better leaders when they have younger students to organize and be responsible for. But students complain constantly to me about being ordered around by midshipmen only a year further along who have real power to punish without any corresponding competence. There is no evidence that students practicing "organization skills" and "decision making" on younger guinea pigs while still immature and incompetent does much to create better leaders. As far as I know, ROTC officers, who do no such play-acting, are perfectly adequate.

2. Stop infantilizing students. That infuriates alphas, as well it should. Make clear what the goals are, show students the tools we've come up with to help them achieve those goals, and let them go. Now, our military students don't "own" the goals of their training, so they don't care about them. We have to step back and control less, not more—that's the only way to get hard-chargers involved. For example, military students should be able to live off campus, as in Canada, and develop the responsibility to show up for muster on time. They might overwhelm the town of Annapolis, say, if they all moved out, so the privilege could be limited to older students or seniors.

3. Allow older students to enroll, if they can hack the physical challenges. Now students need to be under 23 the day they begin summer training before their freshman year. Canada's Royal Military College accepts students into their 30s, and we should too. It makes no sense to turn away competent and mature recruits just because they're no longer in their early 20s.

4. End the practice of awarding military pay and benefits to students at both military prep schools and the academies. ROTC students don't get those advantages, nor do students at military colleges like VMI. The unqualified recruits we remediate at the Naval Academy's prep school receive not only benefits but food and housing, plus a $500-a- month salary. Service-academy graduates also receive an additional four years counted in their retirement benefits if they enter federal service. There is no such largess for ROTC students.

5. Give time credit for transfers. Now, everybody has to do four years at an academy, restarting as a plebe even if you started college elsewhere. That's silly. You don't have to have four years at an academy to be a good officer—in fact, you don't need any years at all, as ROTC shows. Instead of clamping down and cutting ourselves off from the civilian world that we are meant to defend, we need to look for ways to open up—to welcome transfers, older students, and exchange students from ROTC programs.

6. To open up more seats, academies should throw out students who fail to live up to academic and moral standards. The academies should stop recruiting below-par students who use academy prep schools as back doorways into their freshman years. These students fill slots for which better-qualified applicants are rejected. Our affirmative-action programs reject better-qualified white students in favor of unqualified nonwhite students, and the quest for national football glory means that many slots are filled with poor-performing students with weak commitment to the military.

7. Finally, have a real college president for the college part of things. The head of the Naval Academy is an admiral who last saw college when he graduated. Let's have civilian Ph.D.'s for all the academies, ideally women—because so much of what we do seems to be just the nonsense of older men trying to force younger men to do what they say to get a simulacrum of respect.

Some rules must remain. We should continue to ban drinking, because drinking under 21 is unsafe and illegal. But the academies should have no opinion about sex. As it is now, sex at the academies is against the rules. For four years. (Even public displays of affection, such as holding hands, are forbidden.) Saying that we have no opinion about sex doesn't mean we encourage it: We just have no opinion about it, the way we have no opinion about whom students vote for or what music they like. The Naval Academy, for example, is not a ship, and current attempts to pretend it is creates a sense of surreal silliness.

For me, at the Naval Academy—where I have been teaching for 25 years—what hurts the most is that the average midshipman has no respect for the institution. I, by contrast, deeply respect its goals—not its lamentable reality. We've lost sight of those goals, and the students are left wondering what they're doing there, losing respect for themselves as a result.

The service academies could represent the best in American military culture. The students might look forward to real military maneuvers. They might be eager to go to class. They might finally be proud of their institutions. They might get their mojo back, graduating bright-eyed and motivated to serve, rather than disillusioned and cynical, as most of them are now.

Correction (10/9/12, 2:00 p.m.): The original version of this article mischaracterized a retirement benefit service-academy graduates can receive. They receive a four-year retirement credit if they enter federal employment, not if they serve 20 years in the military. The text has been corrected.

Bruce Fleming is a professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy. He is the author, most recently, of Bridging the Military-Civilian Divide (Potomac Books, 2010).

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Nov 12, 2012

Chronicle of Higher Education

The Military Academies Strike Back




The Military Academies Strike Back

In "The Few, the Proud, the Infantilized" (The Chronicle Review, October 12), Bruce Fleming argues that military academies are neither the most effective nor the most affordable way to educate military-bound college students. "It's clear that we don't need the academies in their current form—versions of a kind of military Disneyland," he writes.

Some readers objected to Fleming's characterization of military academies, arguing that he trivializes the historic role they've played and neglects their importance as timeless testaments to shared sacrifice and military excellence.

To the Editor:

I applaud Fleming's loyalty to his beloved Naval Academy in his recent article. And while many Academy grads may see his piece as a betrayal, I see moral courage and candor. I have no doubt that Fleming calls 'em like he sees 'em. However, I respectfully submit that the good Professor ought to have his eye prescription checked.

As president of my West Point class, I am especially unsettled by Fleming's assertions on minority cadets and leadership training. He writes, "The academies should stop recruiting below-par students who use academy prep schools as back doorways into their freshman years ... many slots are filled with poor-performing students with weak commitment to the military." I am unsettled because my younger brother and I both attended West Point Prep, were both elected as class officers, and both led soldiers in combat upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. No officer who serves in combat deserves to have his or her commitment to the military questioned.

Fleming's claims about teaching leadership miss the mark as well. Leadership training at the service academies is not just about coursework. It's about immersion in a moral-ethical environment where leadership in theory meets leadership in practice, and senior officers mentor their future lieutenants and ensigns. The service academies, like all institutions, have their shortcomings. But closing them isn't the answer.

Brandon J. Archuleta
Captain, United States Army
President, West Point Class of 2006


As a Naval Academy graduate, I can tell you that Fleming is spot on with his facts regarding the perception of midshipmen. He has the pulse of the Brigade of Midshipmen but lacks adequate context. He has extraordinary insight into the inner workings of the U.S. Naval Academy's academic machine. However, the downside of his overexposure to the Brigade is that Fleming has become a perpetual midshipman.

Fleming needs to take a holistic view of the service academies and their function within the military. I greatly disliked the Naval Academy when I attended it, but you would be hard-pressed to find a graduate who, after completing their military obligation, still maintained the same view of the service academy that they held when they attended it. Fleming sees only the academic portion of the pipeline without participating in the full experience that extends past graduation. I cannot convey strongly enough the importance of what I learned at Annapolis that was never explicitly taught. Rather, it has to be experienced—and not in a classroom.

For example, Fleming comments on sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation taught me my capabilities and limitations of what I can and cannot accomplish when physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. In a civilian school, I would have simply slept in and skipped class. Midshipmen who skip class are punished for being AWOL. Most civilian school graduates who did not experience what I did in this area had to learn their reactions later in their careers, perhaps when they were in an operational environment. It is much better to learn it in a safe academic setting, where the repercussion of failure is minimal.

Is a service-academy graduate better than a graduate of Officer Candidate School or the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps? No, but the individual service-academy graduate is, without a doubt, a better officer for having attended a service academy.

Joseph L. Moreno
Trustee of the USNA Alumni Association
President of the USNA Class of 1993
The opinions expressed in this response are solely my own and may not necessarily represent either the USNA Alumni Association or the Class of 1993.


We acknowledge that some of what Fleming says has merit, if one reads past the hyperbole. Our response addresses matters that pertain to not just the U.S. Naval Academy, but all service academies, based on our experiences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

We will attempt to provide answers to these three questions. (1) Should the service academies exist? (2) Can we afford the academies in an age of fiscal austerity? (3) Assuming the academies continue to operate, what can they do better to accomplish their missions?

The best way to assess the service academies is by examining outcomes. For example, as of October 21, 2012, seven out of the 11 (64 percent) serving four-star generals in the Army were West Point graduates. Similarly, of the 10 active-duty division commanders (two-star generals), seven graduated from West Point. At the time when these officers were commissioned, USMA produced only about 10 percent of all officers commissioned, revealing the overrepresentation of graduates among the Army's senior leaders.

In our experiences at West Point, we have not come across the same culture or quality issues Fleming encountered. While we wish that our students could be more focused and engaged in their academics, they are by any measure dedicated, hardworking, talented, eager, able, and motivated cadets, preparing to serve their nation and lead their soldiers. The midshipmen we have personally observed are mature young men and women who are exceedingly polite, highly intelligent, and simply enjoyable to interact with.

What Fleming characterizes as "infantilization" is largely a collection of measures that the military uses to impose a degree of uniformity. Lance Betros, in his recently published book Carved From Granite: West Point Since 1902, uses the term "paternalism" to describe the phenomenon.

We all agree on the benefits of treating our future officers more like adults than children, and we need to hold them accountable for their actions. In our service academies, young men and women are trained to lead others, in combat if necessary, for the defense of our nation. This solemn responsibility cannot be abrogated. With regard to the selection of cadets and midshipmen, the "quality in, quality out" rule holds. Well-qualified 18-year-old cadets develop into well-qualified lieutenants four years later.

As currently constituted, the academies are effective tools for civil-military relations. The public respects them precisely because they are monastic and rigorous—and because they are not like civilian society. We have no issues with the academies undertaking adjustments to the academic, military, and physical programs they deem necessary to produce more adaptable leaders. But tamper with the basic structure and you will alienate millions of Americans. The academies are part of the American political fabric because the majority of openings are filled by Congressional appointments.

Those seeking to cut costs have argued that the high attrition rates make rigorous schools unjustifiable. For the academies, it is not just about the degree or the national ranking, but rather the acculturation to the profession of arms and the development of confident, competent leaders and problem solvers. We know it works at West Point.

Betros's main thesis throughout Carved From Granite is that the focus needs to be on character and intellect. Fleming's comments about the danger of admitting academically and sometimes morally unqualified athletes have merit.

Another reason the academies are vital to the nation is because they are enduring and based in statute. ROTC is not a permanent institution, but a policy decision whose organizational health is determined by yearly budgets. Officer Candidate School is even more flexible. The academies might be buffeted by political whims, but they survive, and thus are the repository of our military ethos that cannot be easily destroyed. As Colin Powell so eloquently stated in his Thayer Award speech to West Point cadets in 1998, West Point is "the wellspring of [our] chosen profession."

Periodically, there are assaults on the academies: They cost too much; OCS and ROTC do the job just as well; too many graduates leave the service too soon. We expect these assaults on bits of Sparta in the midst of academic Babylon to continue.

If history is any example, the academies will survive, but should they? Yes. But this case must be made over and over, to our citizenry and Congress.

In an age of fiscal austerity, where we must make hard choices among competing priorities, can we afford the academies? Yes. However, as in all military and government affairs, the services must make the academies more efficient.

What can the academies do better to accomplish their missions? There remains plenty of room for improvement; the "priorities of work" are never complete. Credit should also be given where it is due—today's academies are much better than they were in the past. Education is better, training is better, students are better. That trend must continue.

To paraphrase Carved From Granite, while there may be cracks in the exterior of the granite facade, the foundation beneath remains solid. We believe the service-academy system is a central element that contributes significantly to the strength of America and its military.

Robert Scales, Chris Arney, Scott Nestler, Zygmunt Dembek, Tracey Pérez Koehlmoos, and Robert Rush
All authors are either currently serving, former, or retired Army professionals, and all have earned a doctorate from a civilian university. Their views do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.


The author responds:

The most appealing aspect of the service academies is their ideals of duty, honor, country, service and sacrifice. These ideals continue to draw prospective cadets and midshipmen. However, they are also the source of the great bitterness that most (not all) students feel when they realize that the reality has nothing to do with the rhetoric. We need to be asking if the hyperbole is justified, rather than merely repeating it.

Captain Archuleta's inspiring vision of leadership being taught through example and mentoring is beautiful. The only problem is that there is no proof that the academies inculcate or even encourage leadership better than just spending four years going to college with ROTC, doing a summer of OCS, or coming up through the ranks—as even Mr. Moreno, a trustee of the USNA alumni association, acknowledges. Most people find their leadership models elsewhere, or figure things out themselves. Many students tell me the academy "shows them what not to do" as leaders.

Of course I agree with Mr. Moreno that we should be asking the Navy and the Army what they think of service-academy officers versus those who emerge from other officer-production pipelines. (We citizens had better hope service-academy officers are not better, as they are such a small minority.) There are few studies, and those that exist show no real difference between groups. We need more evidence.

Mr. Moreno seems to be asserting that academy officers deal better with sleep deprivation than those coming from OCS and ROTC. Evidence? Is there any proof that coping with sleep deprivation can be taught? We need more than a handful of proud graduates telling us how good they are to justify institutions that cost so much , and most troublingly, inculcate their graduates with such an unjustified sense of superiority. If the taxpayers knew what these kids are being told about how much better they are than the people paying for their education, they'd demand the places be closed overnight.

A small number of successes from the prep schools, such as Captain Archuleta suggests he is, do not change the fact that the students they admit were deemed not qualified by the academies' own standards. They graduate from the academies at a lower percentage than the rest of the class and are largely (repeat: largely) clustered at the bottom of the class. The benefit is that we get Division I athletics and a slightly higher percentage of nonwhite academy-graduate officers. But in order to get these, we turn away better qualified white applicants whom the board believed to have greater officer potential, and alienate many students disgusted by special treatment of athletes and racial minorities. We need an open discussion of the cost/benefit analysis, not merely the testimonials of individuals who benefited from taxpayer-financed largess or yet another dose of hype.

Thus I am in total agreement with the West Point graduates who wrote that the service academies must continually make their case to the taxpayers and citizens they are meant to defend. This is precisely what the academies fail to do; instead they seem insulted that our vast cash flows even need to be justified. This sense of lèse-majesté comes out quite clearly in this group of academy graduates—all of whom went to school on the taxpayer's dime and were guaranteed employment for at least five years—who characterize my demand that the academies live up to their goals as an attack. But let's say the academies and some of their products lose the disdain they currently show toward questioners and engage in real debate. The results are not a slam-dunk for the academies.

In the old days, it was certainly true that academy graduates predominated at higher ranks. But was that due to merit or to the insider culture of hooking up your buddies, which continues to bedevil the academies? As a report from the Navy's Tench Francis School of Business notes, "it is not clear whether this [advantage] is due to the quality of the service academy programs or other factors that have tended to favor academy graduates." Either way, this is now a dissipated advantage, as the few reports available show.

If we want a military that serves its civilian masters rather than the reverse, it's at least arguable that our officers should be educated in civilian schools and then trained for a time at the academies. Otherwise we will only widen the civilian-military divide that now threatens to cause serious problems in our society, with an increasingly defensive military demanding deference, as these writers do, from the people it serves.

Bruce Fleming

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.


Dec 11, 2011

USNA Admissions

Annapolis Capital


Dec 10, 2011

Navy Times: Professor Says Academy Overstates Applicants (by Sam Fellman)



Dec 27, 2011

Washington Post: "Naval Academy, other colleges, differ on when applications count," by Dan De Vise



Dec 30, 2011

College, Inc: Guest Blog, Washington Post, U.S. Naval Academy's "veneer of selectivity," by Dan de Vise with an article by Bruce Fleming


July 5, 2011

NPR Talk of the Nation

Why do people join the military?


July 4, 2011

C-Span Washington Journal


March 21, 2011:

      Ave Maria Radio: "Kresta in the Afternoon"


January 30, 2011:

      Annapolis Capital: "Naval Academy Prep School serves as path to admission


January 30, 2011:

      Annapolis Capital: " 'Best and brightest'?"


January 26, 2011:

      Washington Post: Naval Academy professor settles free-speech claim


January 26, 2011:

      Chronicle: "Investigators Say Naval Academy Punished Professor"


January 26, 2011:

      Associated Press: "Naval Academy settles with critical professor"


January 3, 2011:

      Minnesota Public Radio News: "Navy investigates 'inappropriate' videos"


December 12, 2010:

      Midrats Radio Blog, "Episode 49: Civ-Mil Divide, Navy Books, China's 'us'"


December 6, 2010:

      Baltimore Sun, "Aberdeen becomes a boom town"

November 20, 2010:

      Navy Times, "2-star, USNA professor clash on diversity"


October 25, 2010:

      Minnesota Public Radio: Bruce Fleming discusses the military-civilian divide and its repercussions


October 19, 2010:

      WYPR: Bruce Fleming discusses his new book, "Bridging the Military-Civilian Divide"


July 15, 2010: "Fleming Takes Aim at Herndon, NAPS, and More"


July 2, 2010:

      Maryland Morning Radio: "Mediocrity the Norm at Military Academies?"


June 25, 2010: "Fleming or the Supe: Whose Numbers Add Up?" (Part 1) | Part 2


May 27, 2010:

      Annapolis Capital, "A voice of dissent at Navy"


May 24, 2010:

November 10, 2005: