• 07/23/2024

    Correcting The Air Force Academy’s Accountability And Transparency Problems

    April 1, 2024
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    By Scott Sturman for Armed Force Press

    Who in the profession of arms possess the requisite courage to storm the beaches of Normandy, to raise the flag on Mount Suribachi, to run the U-boat gauntlet in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic, or risk near certain death flying a B-17 into Nazi Germany in 1943?  Spielberg's "Masters of the Air" depicts the sacrifices of the airmen of the 8th Air Force, who fought and died in great numbers to achieve air superiority and save the lives of thousands of soldiers and sailors.  Cohesiveness, trust, morale, and leadership form the elements that transform disparate individuals into a solidified force that multiplies singular contributions to the mission.

    Superintendents at United States military academies enjoy great latitude to implement policies that affect the training and philosophical attitudes of the cadets and midshipmen under their command—a cohort who will cast an outsized influence over future military policy and constitute 20% of the officer corps.  Recent areas of emphasis such as CRT, DEI, gender identity, and blatant discrimination against white male cadets are controversial, politically driven, illegal, and divisive.  The public for the most part remains oblivious to political activism at service academies, wrongly assuming that merit, equal opportunity, and a service-over-self ethos compose the foundational principles of training. Occasionally, as with the recent "Duty, Honor, Country" controversy at West Point, the public receives a glimpse of the internal trappings at U.S. military academies and the power superintendents wield to transform the foundations of these institutions.

    There are few safeguards at service academies to mitigate the implementation and prioritization of programs, however disruptive and destructive. Opportunities to inform the graduate community of their scope and nature are similarly limited.  The Air Force Academy (AFA) Association of Graduates/ Board of Directors (AOG/BOD) is composed of elected and appointed graduates, who ostensibly represent the alumni, whose recommendations and insights should be aggregated and then transmitted to the superintendent. AOG members provide the AFA critical financial support, and it is not unreasonable that the superintendent receives periodic updates regarding opinions from the graduate community. The experiences and knowledge of 47,000 alumni, who graduated from the first class in 1959 until the present, provide a valuable resource for the AFA administration.  

    The intimate association between the BOD and those it represents became strained when transparency and accountability diminished. The BOD's unbalanced support of DEI initiatives, silence regarding scholarship eligibility based on race and sexual orientation, failure to denounce overt racial discrimination against white, male cadets, and refusal to explore the linkage between unusual deaths and serious injuries suffered by cadets during the mandatory Covid vaccine program led many in the graduate community to believe that the BOD abandoned its independence to serve as an unquestioning advocate of administration policy. 

    A survey conducted after the Class of 1972's Fiftieth Reunion indicated that 7 of 8 respondents disagreed with the direction of the AFA.  Opinions varied as to the specific causes, but graduates, who did not live in proximity to the AFA, relied on the AOG Magazine Checkpoints as an exclusive source of information. This aggressively edited, quarterly magazine portrays an AFA markedly different from what my classmates witnessed firsthand.  The negative impact to morale due to the political nature of the academy's academic curriculum and military training programs resonated among many attendees, who scarcely recognized the institution.

    Racism and radical ideologies must be opposed vigorously in the armed forces and at the AFA, for these pathologies have no equal in promoting institutional decay and undermining morale and cohesion.  DEI and CRT, Marxist derived ideologies, are inculcated, promoted, and enforced at the AFA, despite the administration's repeated denials.  Cadets receive instruction on proper pronoun use, attend lectures on the "Genderbread Person," are surveilled by embedded DEI representatives who function and report outside the normal chain of command, and are subjected to racial discrimination by members of the faculty.  Most cadets express contempt for these dalliances that provide little benefit and serve to divide the Cadet Wing by racial and sexual identities. 

    The AOG has no authority to dictate policy to the academy administration, but members have the right to voice concerns through its BOD, which to be effective, must remain neutral, transparent, and accommodating to its constituents.  Questions involving issues of possible fiduciary imprudence are particularly germane, when financial donations to the AOG or the AOG Foundation are redistributed to anonymous recipients or used to promote activities that undermine the academy's mission.

    Imagine one is 18 years old and filled with expectations after being appointed to join a select few in the AFA Class of 2025.  To join the ranks of Jimmy Doolittle, Dick Bong, and Robin Olds is an opportunity for which only the best and brightest are chosen. But while at home in the months prior to joining one's classmates at basic training, a book arrives in the mail from the AFA that is designated as required reading.  The initial impression is one of bewilderment that the AFA administration recommends a book incongruent with the profession of arms and the recipient's expectations of the institution's literary preferences. George Takei’s book, They Called Us Enemy, is an over-simplified, biased critique of America, published in a comic book format, and written at the junior high school reading level.  It conveys a message imbued with racial overtones and advances oppression politics that dictates self-worth based on appearance rather than merit and character. The book is manifestly political—advocating open borders and openly critical of a former President of the United States.  Who paid for this charade or authorized its dissemination?  These are legitimate questions to which the AOG and Foundation remain opaque and evasive.

    In May 2023 Lt. General (ret) Rod Bishop and Colonel Ron Scott, PhD, on behalf of themselves and 140 other concerned graduates made a formal presentation to the BOD describing the harm dealt to the AFA by the systematic promotion of policies at the AFA based on neo-Marxism that aggravate racial animus and politicize cadet training. They contended that the AOG's complicity and actions violated its Article of Incorporation and Bylaws and made seven specific recommendations. The BOD consulted in a secret session and to this day has not responded to the petitioners. However, the BOD Chairman, a retired Air Force Major General, instructed the BOD not to communicate with the presenters or the organization with which they are affiliated.  He further added that they were not welcome "on the hill" and were untrustworthy and dishonest brokers.  Rather than pursue avenues of reconciliation and encourage meaningful discussion, the confrontational Chairman advocated legal remedies against those recommending reforms.  

    These are times that require more communication, not less.  Graduates from all age groups spanning seventy years and living throughout the world represent thousands of individuals with unique life stories.  Successfully sharing ideas, identifying problems, and formulating solutions cannot be accomplished without open communications, nor by the BOD filtering information to craft conclusions at odds with the collective wisdom of the graduate community.  Only new board members elected by their peers and not appointed for political purposes can establish the role of the AOG/BOD as the voice of the Long Blue Line.  The dedication to openness, the pledge to treat fellow graduates with respect, and the commitment to amend the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws with consent of the collective members of the AOG form the hallmarks of this commitment. 

    Times change, but the preeminence of honor and the behaviors required to endure great sacrifice in service to our country do not.  It is the duty of the graduate community to ensure that others following us at the AFA are prepared to meet these challenges by being offered rigorous academic and military training devoid of political indoctrination and consistent with the responsibilities and rights granted by the Constitution. Cadets understand that the academy experience is diluted and distorted by the woke ideology that permeates it.  Let's stand with them and affirm that courage and tenacity are as indispensable on the ideological battlefield as they were over the skies of Germany 80 years ago. 

    Republished from Armed Forces.Press

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