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Open Letter to 61st Superintendent, From a ’96 Grad


Open Letter to 61st Superintendent, From a ’96 Grad

By John Hughes, USMA 1996

LTG Steven Gilland,

Congratulations on becoming the 61st Superintendent of USMA.  Your introductory letter mentions how you are “committed to ensuring that USMA remains the preeminent leader development institution in the world.”  You have an impressive resume.  Many of us in the Long Gray Line would like to give you the benefit of the doubt that you come to USMA with the noblest of intentions in what should be a terminal assignment that is meant to free you from unlawful command influence.

Many of us are acutely aware that the same Army and Dept of Defense leaders that picked you also backed the prior Superintendent.  Discussions about scandals with the execution of the honor code, drugs, and critical race theory (CRT) still circulate amongst many graduates.

Just last month Judicial Watch published over 600 pages that USMA and DoD refused to release that proved West Point had been teaching CRT despite the 60th Superintendent’s steadfast denials to graduates at several reunions.  USMA’s culture in recent years has appears to have evolved to ignore requests for information by Senators, members of Congress, retired generals and USMA graduates.  Public Affairs and other department staffs won’t return phone calls and allegedly are instructed to not do so.  Even your Dean, my USMA 1996 classmate, frequently sends jokes to his USMA classmates in mass emails but won’t answer any emails from me.  Transparency appears to have been lost which quickly generates mistrust.

While it is refreshing to hear your commitment to USMA and its ideals, it is important to hear certain words from your own lips that will reassure many that you plan to right the ethical ship at USMA.  It is easy to conclude that silence on recent scandals could imply business as usual at West Point.

Just like in any other leadership position, new leaders likely didn’t cause the issues that they inherited but they volunteered for the task and they now own the problems.  As the grasshopper says in Pixar’s movie Bug’s Life, “First rule of Leadership.  Everything is your fault.”  Specifically, we need to hear from you your acknowledgement of the following publicly known issues and your updates/solutions to them:

USMA’s ongoing and frequent cocaine scandals, most recently the MAR 2022 incident involving 5 cadets.  Since the scandal broke, USMA has released no further information despite requests to the USMA PAO.  Please release information on punishment/expulsion of the 5 involved and what actions USMA is doing to root out the cocaine and drug culture at West Point.

2020 Honor scandal involving over 70 cadets – cases were delayed, football players appeared to enjoy favoritism by being allowed to be able to play during investigations and few if any were expelled.  It is well known your predecessor was a former Army Football player.  What is being done to reassure the Long Gray Line that the integrity of the Honor Code will be restored and that the Army Football Team is not the recipient of favoritism when punishment is meted out for honor, regulatory, and legal offenses? Is Worth’s Battalion Orders obsolete?

Allegations a cadet (who was a star football player) stole a watch from the West Point PX and was able to graduate and is now an infantry 2LT in the US Army.  Apparently, his case was presented as an honor vignette to cadets.  Why was this cadet allowed to graduate?

Acknowledgement that CRT was integrated into USMA’s program and actions you are going to take to eliminate it.

Public condemnation of Marxism (CRT is rooted in Marxism).  This should be obvious given USMA’s mission but the hundreds of pages in the court ordered release show USMA has promoted CRT and therefore quite possibly became at best partisan towards one political party and at worst corrupted by Marxist ideology.

Your new billet is a difficult one.  Even in the best of times it is charged with tremendous responsibility to the Corps and the Nation.  That being said, the institution is generally hard wired and success can sometimes just mean keeping the Academy running smoothly and scandal free.  Your predecessor, who was promoted to a European command not based on performance, was apparently given a pass for the scandals he left in his wake.  I realize USMA, like most military and government organizations, doesn’t like to air its dirty laundry.  However, the scope and frequency of recent scandals coupled with the past Supe’s denials, dishonesty, and arrogance has shaken the faith of many in the Long Gray Line.  Many of us have stopped our donations to the Academy as a result.

I pray you clear the air on recent misdeeds at USMA, leave the institution better than you found it, and return it to its founding principles.  Our nation depends on it.

Best of luck.

John Hughes
USMA Class of 1996 (#1 graduate)
3rd Generation West Pointer
4 combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan

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