The examination of military professional development of cadets involved:
--The organization and function of the Office of the Commandant of cadets, particularly with regard to the Company Tactical Officer (Tactical Officer), including military training and physical training.
--The functioning of the United States Corps of Cadets.
Leadership Evaluation System (LES).
The "Plebe" or Fourth Class System.
Cadet Chain of
--The Honor Code and System (discussed in a later chapter).
B. General Appraisal
The overall program of military professional development still produces young officers of uncommon ability and superior potential for sustained service. Notwithstanding the quality of the entering cadet, West Point and its programs must receive considerable credit for the successful transformation of young men and women from all sectors into the officers who lead our citizenry in the profession of arms. We should also note that West Point is changing and has changed even as we conducted our inquiry. For example, the reception of new cadets for the Class of 1981 was a model of positive and supportive leadership. Thus, some of the problems identified in this report may be solved problems--or, at least the nature and impact of the problem may be somewhat different from that stated. Despite such a general endorsement there are aspects of the military professional development program that might be changed to improve the institution and its product.
Our review and analysis convinced us that many of the conclusions drawn by the Borman Commission concerning the military aspects of the Academy were accurate. There are many institutional shortcomings at the Military Academy--shortcomings which have developed over the years largely through failure to adapt to change or failure to perceive that certain policies, programs, and procedures had developed, or were developing, dysfunctional characteristics.
West Point has, of course, made changes over the past several years although not as rapidly as one might prefer. Substantive change normally occurs slowly within the Corps of Cadets, particularly change involving cadet attitudes. This phenomenon makes it all the more important to avoid any hesitancy to introduce alterations at this time. In the aftermath of Electrical Engineering 304 and with a variety of internal and external pressures, an environment for change exists at West Point which should be exploited. Much remains to be done and now is the time to do it.
The Dual Nature of West Point: A Challenging Academic Experience in a Spartan Military Environment.
A fact of West Point is the tension between the demands of the academic institution and those of the military organization. This tension may have become more serious since World War II, and the present demands made upon West Point suggest it will continue. Ways must be devised to ameliorate the effects and to reduce the sources of the conflict as much as possible.
That conflict exists is clear from the many
interviews conducted by the Study Group. As one academic instructor put
TAC's (Tactical Officer) see us as occupants of an ivory tower of academia--they think that they alone know the "real" West Point and the "real" Army. They see us as a halfway necessary evil, but doubt that we really contribute anything.In fact West Point is unique because of this duality of purpose. Certainly, a quality academic experience can better be gained without the competing demands of cadetship. But the mission of providing officers to the US Army is the raison d'etre for a national military academy. All must be mindful of this mission and recognize that their role is to contribute to its accomplishment.
A Tactical Officer explained:
They (Instructors) see TAC's as narrow-minded, rigid disciplinarians who are far too conservative and far too concerned with visible results, standards, and statistics, and not interested in the development of internal thinking processes.
Unfortunately and too frequently the inherent tensions are made even more serious by a lack of understanding that the two systems while in conflict, can be mutually supporting. The academic instructor can be an exemplar of military standards without detracting from the academic experience. And Tactical Officers, imbued with a respect for academic studies, can improve cadet attitudes toward academic subjects. Moreover, one can improve the qualification of a graduate to be a lieutenant without inhibiting the academic experience. But a concept of mutual support and responsibility must be fostered. The entire staff and faculty at West Point should consider themselves personally responsible for both the academic and military quality of the cadet.
Perhaps the most compelling needs are consistency
of purpose and concinnity of philosophy. The output of West Point is an
Army leader and West Point teaches, in a broad sense, Leadership--the components
of which are academic knowledge, military skills, a strong personal ethic,
and strength of character.
C. The Tactical Staff
1. Overview. The Borman Report comments on the delegation of authority to the cadet chain-of-command and on confusion over the proper role of the company tactical officer. Indeed, the role of the Tactical Officer has blurred over the years.
With the institution of a "First Class System" in the late 1950's the cadet chain-of-command has been given greater responsibility and authority. With the laudable intent of giving the cadet increased leadership experience, the Academy began to change the Tactical Officer's role from his previous command function that required him to:
The individual Tactical Officer does not bear sole blame for his isolation from cadets. The institution has failed to describe his role in clear, operational terms and has failed to give him a clear, coherent statement of purpose. The "Tactical Officer's Guide" describes the Tactical Officer's role as "advisor, counselor, and instructor." Among the eight "objectives" are "Motivate each cadet toward successful military service" and "Encourage each cadet to work to the upper limits of his capability"--vague generalities wanting in operational specifics.
The new cadets are quickly prepared through Cadet Basic Training for life as a cadet; the new Tactical Officer (or faculty member) is given little in the way of substantial orientation. So, he has to sort it out for himself, a task most Tactical Officers find confusing and frustrating. As one well-regarded Tactical Officer said:
Moreover, some instructors simply do not know the rules. They, too, are not properly oriented when they arrive and are not kept informed. Of course, exceptions occur among instructors and departments, But there is no standardized, systematic orientation program; consequently there is a wide variety in quality and approach.
Whatever the reasons, there is uneven enforcement of the regulations and standards for the Corps of Cadets. The Tactical Officer frequently stands alone as the diligent enforcer of standards, without the active support of many officers at West Point. He sees himself as inferior relative to the instructors; the instructors agree. Members of the Academic Departments constantly criticize the Tactical Staff for the rules, regulations, and punishments which are generally characterized as interfering with the cadet's academic endeavors, or as trivial, inappropriate, or unproductive. Meanwhile, the Tactical Officer, feeling guilty and hesitant about claiming cadet time, has allowed the cadets themselves, in many instances, to establish the norms and standards in the cadet company. In sum, the entire institution bears major responsibility for failing to guide and support the Tactical Officer in the all-important task of developing cadets.
2. The Regimental Commander. While the Tactical Officer has been frustrated at the cadet company level, his communication upwards is confusing. Such communication is particularly important in accomplishing the Academy's mission of cadet development. Each of the four cadet regiments at West Point has a separate personality. Over time, the position of the Colonel Regimental Commander has grown so strong as to filter or distort communication between the Commandant and the Tactical Officers. The lack of coherent guidance and the inability "to be heard" heightens the Tactical Officer's sense of frustration.
Reversing an earlier decision and following the recommendations of both the Superintendent of the Academy and the Study Group, the Chief of Staff eliminated the position of Regimental Commander in the grade of colonel and replaced it with a Regimental Tactical Officer (not "commander") in the grade of lieutenant colonel. He also directed the creation of the position of Brigade Tactical Officer in the grade of colonel. Adding four Regimental Tactical Officer positions for 1977-78 recognizes that a major change in organization may not be possible now. However, the creation of six Regimental Tactical Officer positions (each in charge of six companies) should be considered for possible implementation in the Summer of 1978.
This decision should assist in a number of ways:
--Facilitates better communication between
the Company Tactical Officer and the Commandant.
--Provides a closer approximation of the normal environment of serving junior officers for the Tactical Officer and the cadets.
--Reduces pressures to compete while fostering consistency and cooperation.
While the organizational change should contribute to an improved environment, other problems remain.
3. The Selection Process. The lack of a careful selection system in recent years has exacerbated problems. A review of certain indicators in a representative group of the Tactical Staff shows that, in contrast to the Academic Departments which begin to identify many future instructors while still cadets, new Tactical Officers are selected by an informal and inconsistent process. Moreover, there is a perception that being an instructor clearly offers more personal and professional rewards than being a Tactical Officer. The Tactical Officer works long hours in a frustrating environment, while the instructor is perceived as having better hours and a more rewarding job. Accordingly, there appears little enthusiasm for becoming a Tactical Officer on the part of the highest quality Academy graduates.
As an indicator of the attitude of Tactical Officers, the results of a recent survey show the Tactical Officer to be significantly lower in morale than the rest of the West Point community by nearly 30 percentile points and below the national average for faculty and administrators of educational institutions by 15 points. Of course, the aftermath of Electrical Engineering 304 has had a pronounced impact on Tactical Officer morale.
Another measure of the Tactical Officer emerged from the survey administered by the Study Group to graduates and cadets. When asked which person at the Academy they least wanted to be like, graduates overwhelmingly (51%) selected the Tactical Officer. In a similar survey, cadets indicate a similar lack of regard. The graph at Figure 1 of responses by class suggests there is a gradual disaffection in the cadet's view of the Tactical Officer. Only 20% of the Plebes (Class of '80) consider the Tactical Officer to be the person they would least want to be like, but by First Class year (Class of '77), 55% consider the Tactical Officer to be the person they would least want to be like. Although this interpretation is not conclusive, only an average of 17% of all year groups of both cadets and graduates surveyed select a Tactical Officer as the person they would most want to be like, while 59% select the Academic Instructor.
The chart at Figure 2 portrays certain indicators for officers assigned to the Tactical Department at regimental level and to the officers of two Academic Departments (in all cases the permanent professors and permanent associate professors have been excluded).
For the graduates assigned to the three departments, relative Cadet General Order of Merit (GOM) at graduation and Leadership Evaluation System (LES) or Aptitude for Service Ratings (ASR) rankings by quartile have been included.
The military indicator (upper, middle, lower one-third of peers) suggests that those officers assigned as instructors or Tactical Officers have enjoyed successful careers. However, two points must be made. First, officers selected for duty at West Point should come from the upper half of both GOM and LES/ASR, or whatever future measurements reflect academic performance and excellence in cadetship. To assign officers to the Tactical Department who ranked low academically (81.3% lower half, 43.8% bottom quarter) reinforces the cadet attitude that studies do not matter and do not relate to future success as an officer. Likewise, assigning officers as instructors or Tactical Officers who have fared poorly in cadetship communicates a similar message to cadets, too many of whom already accept as an article of faith that nothing at West Point matters beyond graduation.
Obviously, graduates do well in the Army from all quartiles of GOM and LES/ASR, however, the fact that those most likely to do well in the Army also ranked well in both at West Point needs to be reflected in the assignment of Tactical Officers.
The second point is that outstanding performance as a cadet combined with outstanding performance as an officer does not guarantee correspondingly outstanding service as a Tactical Officer. The Tactical Officer's leadership style is key to his success and may not be reflected in his written record or file. Interviews are an essential step in the selection of prospective Tactical Officers.
While no single set of data is conclusive, the cumulative effect of these data coupled with personal observation suggests strongly that the selection of Tactical Officers, their role, and the nature of their relationship with cadets deserve attention and warrant change. It should be emphasized that there are many outstanding Tactical Officers at West Point. But it is equally clear that occasionally there are some who, while being outstanding officers in many respects, are not suited to the task of developing cadets into officers.
4. Continuity. A further problem is the lack of continuity in the Tactical Department. As is discussed later, reforms introduced by a given Commandant of Cadets have little hope of survival so long as there is a class who arrived at West Point before the reform (and often before the Commandant) and who will remain after the Commandant departs. Moreover the absence of continuity puts the Commandant at considerable disadvantage in the continuing conflict between the two sides of the institution.
Accordingly, we feel that some stability is needed in the Commandant's office and that an extended term of assignment (4-5 years) for some senior members of his staff is needed.
5. Leadership. The "Tactical Officer's Guide" discusses at length the motivational and developmental objectives. And there is a good deal of discussion at West Point about "Positive Leadership. " Most Tactical Officers, however, had great difficulty in describing "Positive Leadership" in operational terms. In fact, when asked what was their key or most important function, most Tactical Officers replied, "evaluation," or "to ensure the wrong guy doesn't graduate." This near obsession with evaluation makes it virtually impossible for a Tactical Officer to be supportive and developmental. Cadets are constantly evaluated in almost every endeavor. Moreover, the Disciplinary System is (and is perceived to be) punitive evaluation. Also, the results of most evaluations are either not conveyed to cadets or are conveyed infrequently or impersonally.
A clear, coherent and operational philosophy of leadership has never been conveyed to the Tactical Officers. This deficiency is caused, if not aggravated, by the regimental command structure, the lack of effective orientation for new officers, the enormous number of rules and regulations, the emphasis on evaluation, and the lack of a system of rewards in a punitive system. Additionally, Tactical Officers are too involved in administrative tasks to have time for leadership discussions with cadets.
6. Summary. In short, the Tactical Officer frequently has not been the one who sets the norms in the cadet company. The attenuation of his authority and responsibility, lack of a clear sense of role and identity, and absence of coherent philosophy are perhaps the most serious institutional shortcomings with the Tactical Department at West Point. The Tactical Officer is uniquely a focus of cadet development and no part of the institution will function well if the Tactical "system" functions poorly. But the "system" requires careful selection of the Tactical Officer and procedures to ensure that:
--He receives the support of the rest of West Point.
--The structure of the Tactical staff is supportive.
--He receives adequate orientation.
--There are clear lines of communication from the Superintendent and Commandant of Cadets expressing a coherent philosophy and from the Tactical Officer allowing him to air views and concerns to the West Point command authorities.
--And that he is willing to make the personal
sacrifices required if he is to devote himself to developing cadets into
D. Organization of the Office of the Commandant
Chapter III addresses the total issue of governance. The discussion and recommendations there which pertain to the Commandant of Cadets are consistent with the following.
On his departure a recent Commandant commented:
As you know, I recommended to you previously, and I understand that you now have approved, that OMI, OML and OPE all be named "departments" simply as an organizational improvement. With respect to OML and OPE, both should be made departments in the fullest sense of the word, and ... the officer in charge of each should sit as a full fledged member of the Academic Board.The Borman Commission, making similar observations, recommended that the directors of the Office of Military Leadership (OML) and the Office of Physical Education (OPE) be full members of the Academic Board. They further recommended that the Office of Military Leadership, being properly an academic department, be placed under the Dean of the Academic Board.
Since publication of the Borman Report, West Point has, in fact, planned to remove the Office of Military Leadership from the control of the Commandant. This office will be redesignated the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership and will be transferred to the control of the Dean effective September 1977. A number of staff functions which were performed for the Commandant (e.g., Counseling Center, Cadet Troop Leader Training, and the Leadership Evaluation System) will remain under the Commandant. Regulations have been revised to permit the heads of OPE and OML to become members of the Academic Board.
Another provision of the recommendations on governance is the creation of a Director of Cadet Activities (DCA) with responsibility for the Cadet Activities Office and selected Cadet Treasurer functions now under the control of the Superintendent's Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics.
We also recommend that the "offices" reporting to the Commandant be redesignated as "departments." In the current structure, the Commandant of Cadets heads the Department of Tactics, an organization which embraces OPE, OML, and the Tactical Officers. For reasons of consistency alone, the structure should be appropriately organized along lines analogous to the academic departments.
The Commandant's Staff has, over time, been
pared away, as it has done little of the coordination and planning required.
Rather, the planning has been done by the regiments, OMI, OML, and OPE.
To coordinate and schedule more effectively and to relieve the Tactical
Officer of additional duties (as passed through the regiment), the Commandant's
Staff needs strengthening. The need is underscored by the decision of the
Chief of Staff to eliminate the Regimental Commanders and to create Regimental
and Brigade Tactical Officers. The chart on page 59 summarizes most of
the changes we propose.
E. Cadetship and Officer Development
1. Overview. The study group endeavored to understand both the nature effect of the cadet experience through research, interviews, and surveys. In a survey of graduates and their commanders, the evidence indicated that West Point graduates continue to be held in generally high regard, particularly because of their:
--Sense of Integrity
--Understanding the Role of an Officer
--Potential for Advancement
--Strength of Character
--Bearing and Appearance
--Devotion to Duty
On the other hand, commanders and noncommissioned officers consider recent graduates to be least adept in:
--Ability to Talk with Troops
--Concern for the Welfare of Troops
Recent graduates also express concern over their inability to deal with enlisted men. When these observations are viewed in conjunction with the reasons graduates hold Tactical Officers in low esteem, e.g., "Inability to deal with people," it suggests that either cadets may be improperly influenced by the Tactical Officers or there is something missing from the cadet experience or both.
Further evaluation of the survey data and cadet interviews suggests systemic problems.
--The attitude of some cadets towards academic effort is poor. There is clearly a significant cadet subculture indifferent to scholastic pursuits at West Point.
--There is an equally disdainful attitude for much that is termed "military" at the Academy.
--The Leadership Evaluation System is seen as both unimportant and subversive.
--Cadet chain of command duties are viewed
as time consuming and, in many cases, trivial.
--Discipline is considered arbitrary and unfairly administered. The Disciplinary System is thought to be punitive and controlling.
--The Fourth Class System is accepted by Plebes in a philosophically stoic manner, but there are clearly some dysfunctional aspects of the system particularly relating to the leadership techniques learned by upperclassmen.
2. Cadet Attitudes. The Borman Report observes that there has not been agreement at West Point on the relative importance of academic studies:
There has, for example, been serious disagreement over the proper role of education in the mission of the Academy: Should West Point train combat leaders for immediate service in junior ranks, or should it provide the fundamental education and study to allow graduates (a) to assimilate quickly the special skills required for junior officer service in the basic branches of the Army, and (b) after experience and further study, to provide the senior military leadership on which the nation depends for its security. We are convinced that the acquisition of a college education within a military environment must, during the academic year, have first call on the time and energies of each cadet; military training should be concentrated in the summer months. The failure of Academy constituencies to agree on the relative importance of the educational component of the mission has hindered the development of an academic atmosphere which discourages dishonesty.The Borman Report also implies that there is a serious trend towards increasing military skill training during the academic year. "Many officers in the Academic Department are disturbed by what they see as a growing displacement of the academic curriculum and study time by military skill training."
Development of such an atmosphere has also been impeded by the failure to determine priorities among competing claims on cadets' time. Prior to curriculum changes adopted this Fall, cadets needed far more credit hours to graduate than are required by most institutions of higher education. The academic pressures have been intensified by the increase, during the academic year, of military and physical training and cadet leadership responsibilities. In excess of two-thirds of the cadets surveyed in 1975 stated that they did not have sufficient time to satisfy overall demands. While cadets may not have been overworked, they clearly have been overscheduled.
As noted earlier, the Study Group finds clear evidence of a subculture indifferent to academic studies or achievement in the Corps and agrees there is reason for concern. The implied causes of this attitude, i.e., a perceived encroachment of military skill training and emphasis on training platoon leaders, may be simplistic.
Having had many months to build upon the Borman Commission's work, we conclude that the negative view of academic studies results from a number of factors. The problem is complex and not susceptible to simple solution.
In fact, there has been no recent increase in the net hours devoted to physical education and militarily related activities; there has been a reduction in both. While Sandhurst competition (a military skills competition between company teams) was introduced recently, it should be noted that it merely replaces, for the most part, intramural or extracurricular participation by those cadets involved in the competition. Routine military activities (except for cadet chain of command duties) have been reduced for the individual cadet in such areas as Saturday inspections and parades. Further, the physical education program at West Point has been sharply reduced over the years and claims significantly fewer hours of cadet time than the Air Force or Naval Academies.
It is the Study Group's view that the disdain for academic pursuits emanates from several conditions, among them being:
--Certain deficiencies in curricula and pedagogy. These are addressed in detail in Chapter V, Academic Program but deserve emphasis.
--The lack of clear support of and emphasis of the academic component by the Tactical Staff, either through lack of interaction with the cadet or through inadequate appreciation of the academic side of the institution.
--A perception among cadets that it is difficult to fail academically. Instructors admit that they go to great lengths to avoid failing a cadet.
--The availability and proximity, during the academic week, of a number of distractions (e.g., movie, gymnasium) which compete with study time. In the total peer environment of West Point, the pressure to yield to these distractions is particularly strong. It should be noted that the Air Force Academy has more stringent rules concerning activities on academic evenings.
--The instant and immediate nature of the demands of "Cadetship." Distinct from the military education and training are the demands of chain of command duties, inspections, the Disciplinary System, and other manifestations of administering the Corps. The "feed-back" on cadet performance is nearly instantaneous--failure to shine shoes results in an immediate award of demerits. The "feed-back" on the Academic side takes longer and is, consequently, less pressing.
--The multiplicity of demands on the cadet. Almost all of the cadets' time during the week is scheduled. Yet, they find a good deal of time for idle pursuits. Most observers view the problem as a combination of the fragmentation of cadet time and the variety of pressures with which he must cope. This situation may not be all bad. In learning to deal with multiple demands and pressures, the cadets may be gaining experience which will pay dividends later. Considering the fact that West Point cadets are some of the best supported college students in the world, it is not unreasonable to expect them to work hard. But, it is not our observation that they are overworked; they are overscheduled, and the price of this over scheduling is, for some, an inability to set sound priorities or to do more than the minimum acceptable in any area.
Of equal concern is the cadet's disdain for things which fall under the title of "military," a disconcerting phenomenon at the "national military academy." The Study Group detected a subtle cynicism about things military at West Point which derives from the cadet view that many military related activities are:
--Contrary and capricious, e.g., discipline, the Fourth Class System.
--Trivial and poorly accomplished, e.g., some
aspects of Military Science.
The view is enhanced and sustained, in part, by the poor leadership examples of some few Tactical Officers. Unfortunately, many academic instructors encourage such pejorative attitudes towards Tactical Officers and the military aspects of the institution.
Thus, general cadet ambivalence toward academic pursuits and things military reflects the lack of a coherent institutional purpose at the Academy.
3. Cadet Rank and the Cadet Chain of Command. The history of the cadet chain of command is the corollary to the history of the separation of the Tactical Officers from the cadet company. The cadet chain of command provides for the efficient control and expeditious flow of information within the Corps of Cadets and for leadership development of cadets. There is an essential conflict between these purposes. The cadets who most need leadership development are those least likely to perform well in cadet leadership positions. As a result of this conflict, cadet rank and chain of command positions are awarded inconsistently. While not a serious morale factor, it is another of the numerous incongruities facing the cadet. Most Tactical Officers use a mixture of reward and developmental rationale in designating a chain of command, which, although reasonably well understood by cadets, still impacts on morale. West Point should adopt a single, consistent philosophy for the chain of command to avoid some of the ambiguity and inconsistency perceived by cadets. In our view, cadet rank in the chain of command should be on a reward basis only once each academic year.
Another dysfunctional aspect of the chain of command is the number of trivial positions and duties. Many of these jobs should be eliminated.
We would also consider eliminating the Cadet "Commander" at all levels. To some extent this is cosmetic since cadets would continue to be involved in the running of the Corps. The message, however, is totally clear--the one commander of the Corps is the Commandant and the one commander of the company is the Tactical Officer.
While some cadet leader experience during the academic year would be lost, the loss is not significant. (One West Point officer observed that cadets were "practicing to be bureaucrats"). The summer leadership experiences have much more impact on the cadets and their development.
4. Leadership Evaluation. There has been an increasing preoccupation with the evaluation of cadet performance outside the classroom. Prior to 1920 there was little need for a formal evaluation system. The Corps was small and the subjective judgment of the Academy staff was adequate for the purpose of selecting the cadet chain of command; if academic and disciplinary standards were met, cadets were graduated and commissioned. In 1920 cadets were selected for chain of command positions based on a rating which combined academic performance and certain indices of participation in athletics and extracurricular activities. At the same time peer ratings to evaluate leadership were introduced. The peer ratings were not included in the system used to select the chain of command.
Significantly, the ratings (academic, athletic, extracurricular) were used only for chain of command selection. In 1941, the Secretary of War approved a system of evaluation intended to justify the separation of a cadet (or to graduate a cadet without commissioning). By 1944, West Point had a complete Aptitude for the Service Ratings(ASR) System which contributed to the General Order of Merit and provided for ratings by cadets, Tactical Officers, and others.
In later years both peer ratings and Camp Buckner ratings were introduced. The system was redesignated the Leadership Evaluation System (LES). The number and frequency of ratings fluctuated, but the perceptible trend has been toward increased frequency of ratings and degree of complexity.
The Borman Commission noted a relationship between LES and the cheating subculture:
The clear evidence of a strain of unreliability and that there have been causes of intentional subversion suggest that there should be significant revisions of the system. Part of the abuse is the reward connection between LES and GOM (in addition to some fear of separation). The anxiety of being rated low reflects a fear of lowering class standing, thereby adversely affecting branch selection, choice of first duty station, and lineal rank in the Regular Army.
The minimum changes required in any effort to restore health this evaluation system are:
--Eliminate the peer ratings of classmates (perhaps all cadet ratings other than chain of command).
--Sever the relationship between LES and GOM or class standing (elimination of GOM recommended elsewhere may render this moot).
--Reduce the administrative burden of LES.
--Instruct cadets in what to evaluate, what aptitude for service encompasses, and how to conduct performance counseling.
These would be the minimum changes. Perhaps the better approach would be to eliminate the leadership evaluation as it now exists preserving only Tactical Officer evaluations.
5. Disciplinary System. The present USCC Disciplinary System, reasonably well understood by cadets and officers, provides a convenient form for recording infractions and defines quite clearly the minimal acceptable behavior in a wide range of areas. In recent years, the Disciplinary System regulations have been abbreviated requiring increased judgment on the part of the Tactical Officers, the primary executors of the system. The Study Group strongly endorses such trends and concludes that emphasis should continue to fall on a simplified and generalized prescription for desired modes of conduct rather than on a detailed list of offenses and punishments. The latter alternative all too often becomes a shopping list for bad behavior in which the potential offender weighs his proposed transgression against the allotted punishment. Notwithstanding the improved and improving approaches to the Disciplinary System, it still appears overly punitive in its present configuration. Most cadets (85%) and recent graduates (72%) surveyed describe the Disciplinary System as either punitive or controlling, while only 15% of cadets and 28% of recent graduates describe it as either educational, administrative, or motivational. Experience with the system seems to have the effect of causing an increasing proportion of cadets to see the system as punitive. The data from recent graduates now serving as platoon leaders support the same conclusion. Recent graduates also most frequently selected the Disciplinary System as the factor which impacts most adversely on the Honor System (this question was not asked of cadets). Regardless of such perceptions, the Study Group acknowledges the necessity for rules and associated punishments as an integral part of any disciplinary system. But, a system overly punitive in nature or so perceived can be counter-productive, it:
--Fosters minimal acceptable performance.
--Promotes devious gamesmanship.
--Discourages misconduct for the wrong reasons.
--Promotes disaffection with the operators of the system.
--Fosters compliance not internalization.
--Enforces the "fear-of-failure" syndrome.
--Promotes an over-appreciation of punitive leadership.
Perhaps the most pernicious effects are the encouragement of minimal acceptable behavior and a view of organizational leadership based largely on rules and associated punishments. When asked how they would motivate their troops after graduation when demerits would not be available, a group of First class cadets concluded that "We'll still have the Article 15." There are clearly better ways to develop and nurture discipline.
We conclude that there is a structural imbalance in the Disciplinary System resulting in a well-defined and well-understood system of punishments on the one hand with no corresponding or even roughly analogous system of positive incentives on the other. Discipline at West Point should include more than punishment; punishment is incidental to discipline and not its purpose. The development of self-discipline certainly involves more than exacting a price for improper behavior.
There are positive incentives at West Point, but they are not in sufficient quantity or appropriate quality to balance the well structured punitive image of the punishment system--not a one-to-one correspondence --nor should a cadet be rewarded for merely doing his duty; but there should be rewards for uncommon or extraordinary performance in the routine of cadet life. The considerable body of privileges associated with each class may properly be construed as rewards of a sort, but these rewards or privileges are viewed by cadets as "rights" attained by virtue of remaining in the system for a period of time and which may be taken away as punishment.
6. Social Development. A significant conclusion from both surveys and interviews is the lack of social maturity displayed by new graduates. The cloistered atmosphere of the Academy, its remote location and the limited freedom accorded to cadets, shelters cadets from contemporary experiences. Both the demands of the academic and military programs and the austere nature of the cadet experience justify restrictions of cadet freedom. However, we believe that the Academy needs to consider carefully changes in the system of privileges to allow greater opportunity for maturation. Privileges tend to be viewed as rewards; it is important to understand that freedom to leave the Academy also has intrinsic value in the development of cadets. The challenge is to find the proper balance.
7. Competition. The young men and women who come to West Point have a strong sense of competition. They have competed very successfully in athletics and study activities. They come to West Point eager for the challenge, and the Academy reinforces this powerful motivating influence. The art of the matter is to help cadets keen their attitude healthy. Competition always has the potential of becoming destructive. Winning can become more important than personal standards of honesty, integrity, and compassion for others. West Point needs to channel competition away from the inter-personal and towards relevant fixed standards wherever possible. Whether in academics or in athletics, the cadets should be challenged by a clear set of objective criteria rather than by the performance of their peers.
8. The Fourth Class System. The most vexing problem addressed by the Study Group was the analysis of the Fourth Class System. The beginnings of the system go as far back as Thayer, and so do the abuses. In one way or another, every Superintendent and every Commandant has had to cope with the abuses. In 1919, Superintendent Douglas McArthur formalized a system, in part, to eliminate the harsh treatment of Plebes, a practice which frequently carried over into handling of enlisted men in the Army. In 1976, Brigadier General Ulmer, Commandant of Cadets, said:
Abuses of the Fourth Class System represent the greatest potential for future public embarrassment of the Military Academy. We need to keep asking ourselves the rationale for everything we do within the Fourth Class System.The Study Group readily recognizes the virtues of the Fourth Class System. It is an effective tool for socialization and equalization of cadets. And the stressful environment probably contributes to the learning and preparation necessary to become a cadet. The sense of pride and cohesion from having endured a grueling experience are clear contributors to individual and group confidence. Moreover, it is an important element of the traditional West Point Experience.
But, the Committee is seriously concerned over both the potential for abuse and the potential ill effects of the system itself.
Every year in the recent past, Cadet Basic Training--Beast Barracks--begins with the strict intent to provide supportive and positive leadership in a demanding environment. But soon, as one long-time observer puts it, "the mad-dogs of August are unleashed." It was reported to the committee that in 1976: "At the end of the first week the King of the Beasts called in the detail and told them, ‘I want to see some smoking butt out there.’"
At the same time there are examples of more supportive leadership, and there are clear indications that those cadets exposed to such leadership perform better both during CBT and after joining the Corps. But, far too much negative leadership remains. And in September, when every Plebe is totally subject to every upperclassman, the difficulty of monitoring the system multiplies.
Throughout the year reports of problems ranging from personal services to verbal abuse and threats to run Plebes "out of the Corps" continue.
It has been said that the thing wrong with the Fourth Class System is not what is does to Plebes, but what it teaches upperclassmen. And, indeed, Plebes are somewhat stoic and philosophical about the system, although they view it as unfair and abusive. Of course, this year's Plebe is next year's upperclassman, and the lessons learned are not lost. And it is this self-perpetuating nature of the Plebe leadership experience which is so frustrating. Based upon a study of the Fourth Class System, an earlier Commandant established new precepts for the treatment of Plebes. The Commandant noted:
b. To assume from the outset the Plebe had performed commendably while in secondary school in order to qualify for entrance, and was motivated to be a cadet, otherwise he would not have entered the gates; then to build upon his past performance and his motivation.
c. To realize that the mission is to train, develop and support the Plebe, not to terrorize, threaten, degrade or humiliate him.
The Study Group is not only concerned over the difficulty in eliminating abuse but also with some fundamental aspects of the system itself. We have concern over:
--The total and pervasive authority over Plebes.
--Fundamental assumptions about stress.
Basic to the abuses of the system and to the negative leadership experience is the near absolute authority held by upperclassmen. The Study Group has not done exhaustive review of psychological research in authoritarian relationships. There is, however, evidence which suggests that absolute authority not only encourages harsh and abusive behavior by the person in authority, but also encourages weak, indecisive, and negative behavior by the person subjected to the absolute authority. Moreover, since all upperclassmen wield authority but have routine leader responsibility only to the Plebes in their company, it becomes authority without responsibility and can be subject to capricious use when applied to others.
In practically every discussion of the Fourth Class System, one encounters the fundamental assumption that stress, however produced, is beneficial. Significantly, the official system refers to "controlled stress." Stress properly controlled, probably does enhance learning and shorten the adjustment period, but whether it develops a person who can function effectively under future stress is less clear. The major problem is that the system is administered by upperclassmen who do not understand stress, how it operates, or its potential for harm. In fact, part of the implicit logic supporting the continuance of harsh leadership is that "stress is good for the Plebe, it is easy to create stress by yelling, ergo, yelling is, if not good, not too bad." Many cadets express the idea that they are left without leadership tools if they cannot deprive Plebes of food or use verbal abuse. This belief, of course, ignores the fact that stress, if that is the aim of the system, can be created in a much more productive fashion through calm and even supportive challenges to meet demanding standards. Moreover, in its evaluative function, the stress aspect of the Fourth Class System also may be producing negative effects. A young man or woman who decides not to put up with the stress induced by negative, abusive leadership and purposeless activity may be, in fact, demonstrating the qualities of intelligence, independence, and maturity that West Point and the Army want.
That there is something wrong with the method of inducing stress is implied by a recent study of the Fourth Class System which makes the following observations:
In summary, the Study Group views the Fourth Class System with much ambivalence.
--We recognize that there are abuses in the system, but we also recognize its uses. Thus, we cannot yet justify recommending its elimination.
--However, we think the Fourth Class System carries the seeds of continuing, self-perpetuating failure unless significant changes are introduced.
--If the closed cycle of dysfunctional leadership involving the Plebe, the upperclassmen, the new graduate, and the Tactical Officer cannot be broken, we would encourage the abandonment of the system for a least four years with its reintroduction being carefully designed from a "zero base."
Another, somewhat minor observation of the Study Group relates to Fourth Class knowledge--or "Plebe Poop. " What originated partly as college humor and partly as a means for preserving traditions has become a purposeful, time-consuming system. It seems bizarre to give written examinations on "Plebe Poop" and to interlace the traditional with a sort of psuedo-relevance embodied in learning the specifications of missiles, tanks, and other hardware. We discovered that the information was neither well understood nor long remembered.
9. The Advent of Women. We noted with satisfaction the competence and sincerity that have characterized West Point's efforts to integrate women cadets into the routine of Academy life. The results of prior planning and the sense of commitment on the part of West Point are evident. Many of our observations may only suggest areas to be watched in subsequent evaluations.
--The Effects of the Plebe Year. Though men have undergone the rigors of Plebe year for decades, the data obtained may not be completely transferable to women who may not react withthe same psychological or physiological manifestations as their male counterparts.
--Appropriate Role Models. There are currently few women officers on the staff and faculty. Consequently, the female cadets have a limited number of role models for emulation. Of significance is the absence of a woman Tactical Officer. As the Tactical Officer is the most visible and influential member of the non-tenured staff and faculty, the absence of a female Tactical Officer would seem to be a problem.
--Specialty Selection for Women. Though at least three years distant at this juncture, the question of specialty choice for women graduates will continue to become increasingly important. Interest will come not only for the women cadet as she grapples with the realization of eventual commissioning and its concomitant responsibilities, but also from other observers both inside and outside the Academy. Early study and resolution of the specialty options available to women cadets would seem key to alleviating potential areas of misunderstanding or confusion.
10. Sex Education. Given both the intensity
and proximity of living conditions at West Point, there would seem to be
a need for sex education that addresses the mutual responsibilities and
obligations for both sexes living in such an environment. The education
should be straight forward, mature, and sufficiently broad to encompass
physiological features, reproduction, contraception, hygiene, and responsibility.
F. Military Education and Training
1. Overview. One of the comments of the Borman Report and a recurring theme from interviews with senior officers, both active and retired, is that West Point should not be in the business of producing branch qualified lieutenants. Most hold this view because of a concern that such extensive military training will, inevitably, erode the academic side of the Academy, either through direct competition for time or through attraction of interest, or both. Others, conceding that branch qualification is reasonably within reach and not necessarily a negative force, are more concerned over the added pressure and intensity of the West Point experience. The Study Group was struck by the unremitting purposefulness of West Point in its every activity. For example, after having heard from graduates of several years ago of the virtues of the Third Class summer at Camp Buckner in terms of class cohesion and a relaxed but productive field training program, we are surprised by the intensity of the contemporary Third Class Summer. While the official schedule would argue that there is ample free time, the schedule fails to reflect a myriad of things which absorb the cadet's time (e.g., preparation for training, travel to and from Fort Knox).
While specialty qualification probably can be accomplished in the summer without interfering with academic studies, the price increased intensity of the cadet experience probably makes it unwise. Moreover, the nature of recently planned changes in Officer Basic Schools make it clear that, in two or three years, it would be nearly impossible to achieve specialty qualification without a major impact on the cadet and probably the academic curricula.
This is not to say, however, that one should sacrifice quality training, perhaps some of which is specialty related, or fail to give the West Point graduate unique intellectual depth in the profession of arms. Unfortunately, the issue of academic education versus military training, the inherent duality of West Point, is too often misunderstood and debated in imprecise and improper terms:
--Much of the criticism of that called "Military" centers on Cadet regulations, Cadet discipline, and other uniquely cadet activities, which are viewed as harassing, inconsistent, and fundamentally unfair. The issue is not whether there should be regulations and discipline but, rather, is the application of regulations and discipline even, sensible and mature.
--Too frequently the responsibility for providing experience relevant to the Army is translated into the simplest of skill training rather than into the requirement for an intellectual grasp of the military calling and the alignment of leadership practices with those in the Army.
--Much of that which is done could be much improved, yet the issue is seen only infrequently as a matter of quality.
--Anything military is frequently considered unintellectual or antithetical to academic pursuits.
In short, the frequently emotional and always imprecise debate fails to address the important issues. The Study Group simply cannot accept the implication that bad lieutenants make good generals or that West Point should concentrate on developing lieutenants rather than generals. These are false choices, choices that should not be posed to West Point. We believe that cadets can be given better than average pre-commission skills, relevant and beneficial leadership experiences, and a unique intellectual grasp of the military. But, the tone, content, and quality of the "military" component are not adequate to the task.
2. Academic Year. The Military Science instruction during the academic year closely approximates that taught in any ROTC program and is faithful to the pre-commissioning objectives established by the Army. The content and sequencing are tailored to prepare the cadet for summer training, e.g., squad tactics are taught in the spring before Buckner.
Given, however, the sizeable amount of time available for military training overall in the academic year and summer, there is enormous opportunity cost in the current program. West Point, alone among the pre-commissioning sources, offers the opportunity to provide intellectual depth in the study of the military profession--most things required for military skills can be provided during the summer period-and the academic year provides the opportunity for a unique experience.
The committee strongly urges major changes in the curricula and pedagogy for Military Science.
--Courses should be provided in subjects with intellectual content. Some examples are Evolution of the Military Profession, Comparative Military Systems, Modern Warfare, Professional Ethics, and the American Soldier.
--Both to bridge the gap between military professional instruction and academic studies and to reinstitute the role of the Tactical Officer as instructor and teacher, classes in Military Science should call upon Academic Instructors and Tactical Officers as team teachers.
3. Summer Training. The West Point: summer training program offers a great opportunity to give the cadet challenging experience and meaningful leadership opportunities. The current program is both popular with cadets and effective in providing training and experience for development as Army Officers. Nevertheless, the Committee feels that there are some improvements which could be made. These improvements feature:
--Introduction of a summer program placing the cadet in the training base as a "Drill Cadet" assisting the Drill Sergeant. The cadet is well founded in the School of the Soldier and in basic rifle marksmanship. With these skills, the cadet could be exposed to a realistic leadership situation as a trainer. Both the Air Force and the Navy already have a similar program. We believe this program will serve to attenuate some of the negative leadership experiences by placing the cadet in a real military environment. It is also important to note that it is intended that the cadets not be given officer privileges while in the field; rather they should get a total appreciation for the noncommissioned officer role.
--Elimination of some Cadet Military Skill Training (Airborne, Ranger, etc.). We seriously question the cost and utility of some of the Skill Training, particularly expensive training which has limited application and offers little return to the Army. And we would sacrifice all Skill Training prior to graduation if necessary to free Second Class summer for the Drill Cadet Program. We do acknowledge the value of Ranger and Airborne Training, but these could be taken after graduation. Alternatively, the sacrifice of some leave would allow both Airborne and Drill Cadet Training in the same summer.
--Elimination or reduction of First Class Participation at Camp Buckner to free the First Class Cadets for more rewarding activity such as branch-oriented Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT). The new Third Class could assume the major responsibility for running their own organization and much of the training. There is precedence for this arrangement, and we think it would be beneficial to the Third Class.
--Reduce the amount of leave for some cadets as required to meet the demands of the recommended training.
--Retention of Cadet Basic Training (CBT). This is one of the more important aspects of the cadet experience. While we do not believe that cadets retain the substance of CBT (analogous to Army Basic Training) the physical training, the demanding schedule, and general environment are important to the transition from civilian to cadet.
--Retention of Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT) but conducted in First Class summer and with branch-related experience. The CTLT "3d Lieutenant" program is universally applauded as providing a realistic experience for cadets. By providing for tentative specialty selection in Second Class year and conducting CTLT during First Class summer, we see a somewhat more relevant experience.
The opportunity for noncommissioned officer experience in the Army (Drill Cadet) and for specialty related "3d Lieutenant" experience (CTLT) is an important change to summer training, exploiting the opportunity to make West Point training unique.
In summary, the preferred summer training program
|Fourth Class Summer||Cadet Basic Training (CBT)|
|Third Class Summer||Cadet Field Training (Camp Buckner)|
|Second Class Summer||Drill Cadet (and, possibly, Airborne)|
|First Class Summer||CBT Detail and CTLT|
4. Physical Education. Physical conditioning is critically important to the Army combat arms officer, and physical education is done exceedingly well at West Point. Although physical education absorbs a good deal of the cadet's energy, we are reluctant to recommend reducing the scheduled hours. The actual scheduled hours have been decreased over the years and are fewer than either of the other major academies:
|Phys Ed Classes||Tests||Intramural||Total|
Another concern of the study group is the program for women cadets. It is our observation that there is a near obsession at West Point when giving women, as nearly as possible, the same physical education program as men. Our intuitive feeling is that the physical stress is excessive and that the level of physical conditioning being demanded may not be justified for future service. The justification for the physical education program is frequently that "equal effort" is being extracted from both male and female cadets. While the idea is appealing in support of the assertion that there is a "singletrack," we are uncertain that such a precise distinction can be made.
5. Specialty Assignments. Traditionally, the selection and assignment of specialties (Branching) at West Point has been done by GOM standing. The Study Group has advocated elimination of GOM and we understand that it has been eliminated. The issue now is to devise an alternate branching method.
On examination, it seemed sensible to consider a way to assign specialties based upon demonstrated ability and aptitude rather than interpersonal competition. The solution appears remarkably simple:
--Department of Army would assign tentative specialty quotas to West Point during the spring of Second Class year, thereby permitting branch-related "3d Lieutenant" training.
--West Point would then assign tentative specialties to cadets based upon: branch preference, academic performance, military performance, and other criteria such as interesting.
We visualize a continuing dialogue between West Point and Army personnel managers which might result in adjustments to quota allocations prior to tentative selections and could enable changes and reallocations after the branch-related CTLT.
The Study Group did not examine in detail the
issues of which specialties should be available for women or the implications
of allowing male cadets routinely to select other than combat arms. Any
review of specialty selection for male cadets must, inevitably, consider
the policy for men. We note, however, that the graduation of combat arms
leaders is a unique rationale for West Point.
Table of Contents
The athletic program at West Point, encompassing extracurricular, intramural and intercollegiate activities, plays a major role in shaping the Academy environment and contributes directly to the cadet development process. Aside from certain facilities shortfalls, the extracurricular and intramural athletic programs are sound, while the intercollegiate athletic program needs revitalization. The recent efforts towards improvement need to be continued and intensified.
Although the Army Athletic Association (AAA) fields more intercollegiate teams whose yearly winning percentages are consistently better than most undergraduate schools in the country, the perception of success of the intercollegiate athletic program hinges directly on the achievements of the major sports, especially football. When major athletic teams fail to produce outstanding results, to include wins over other service academies and nationally recognized teams, there is a resultant negative impact on the esprit de corps of the community, the national image of the Academy, and the financial posture of the AAA.
In recent years, athletic teams in major sports at the Academy have not had impressive records. The 1957-1976 record of the traditional major athletic teams that compete against Navy reflects a losing trend. In the last five years, the net results against Navy are striking--11 wins, 39 losses and 2 ties. Traditional rivalries aside, results of intercollegiate athletic competition with the other service academies are especially meaningful since each faces, by and large, the same recruiting challenges.
Several factors have contributed to a general
lack of intercollegiate athletic success. These key factors include: lack
of an institutional commitment to intercollegiate athletics, role and composition
of the Athletic Board, the tenure and qualifications of the Director of
Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) and the organization and management of
the Army Athletic Association.
B. Institutional Commitment to Intercollegiate Athletics.
Excellence in athletics is as inherent to the mission of the Military Academy as excellence in studies and military training. USMA intercollegiate athletic teams, representative of the institution, are expected to excel in competitive athletics. Institutional commitment to excellence in intercollegiate athletics can be achieved without detriment to other outstanding Academy programs and can be manifested by: clearly defined statements of intercollegiate athletic policy; expression of concise intercollegiate athletic goals and objectives; visible efforts to increase the degree of alumni support through the Association of Graduates; construction, operation and maintenance of outstanding athletic facilities; frequency of visits of Academy officials at team practices, NCAA contests and press functions; enthusiastic, voluntary spectator support at team practices and games by the entire West Point community; the degree of professionalism exhibited in the management of the intercollegiate athletic program; and finally, making this commitment to excellence visible to the Corps of Cadets.
Informally, the Academy does have a goal relative to intercollegiate athletics--win 75% of the contests and at least 50% against other service Academies. Although a step in the right direction, a more complete statement of objectives should be developed and promulgated formally for each sport which would include the level of competition, the degree of national recognition desired, and post-season competition aspirations. An expression of such objectives can serve as the nucleus of a "win" philosophy at the Academy which coaches, managers, and officials at all levels of the Academy should support in the overall administration of the intercollegiate program.
The lack of institutional commitment is also apparent in the mediocre athletic facilities. A prominent Review Panel on Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education appointed by the Superintendent in 1972 declared as inconceivable the fact that the Nation would allow the athletic and physical education departments to function with the mediocre facilities which currently exist.
The Academy must not be satisfied with mediocre athletic facilities and must provide for their timely replacement or renovation. During the past ten years, more than 80 NCAA schools have built new basketball facilities. Seventy-five percent of these have seating capacities of 5,000 or greater and 48 percent seat more than 10,000. In addition, 29 NCAA schools will complete new basketball facilities in the next five years. At West Point, the current basketball floor is over 38 years old and located in a field house of equal vintage. The basketball court and stands, not only unsatisfactory for a basketball facility measured by today's standards, also preclude effective utilization of the field house for more suitable purposes. The current hockey facility, constructed in the early thirties, also needs a replacement.
At West Point the current 1,500 seats for hockey and 3,100 for basketball have been marginally adequate at best. In recent years, experience shows that standing room only has been available for games with recognized opponents and, given adequate facilities, greater attendance can be promoted. The Academy should plan on a priority basis for greater seating capacity for both hockey and basketball. Seating capacities of about 4,000 for hockey and 7,000 for basketball appear to be reasonable considering construction costs and future attendance expectations. Other priority needs include renovation of the football stadium, gymnasium alterations, and additional outdoor athletic areas.
Another area of support for the USMA intercollegiate athletic program, not fully exploited compared to other institutions, is the Alumni Association. Declarations of moral support from trustees as well as contributions to athletic programs and facilities should be solicited so that alumni interest and support complement the Academy's institutional commitment to athletics. Recent efforts in support of the astroturf project for football serve as an example of the potential benefits to be derived from increased alumni involvement.
The Superintendent must be the catalyst in
the development or elaboration of the institution's commitment to intercollegiate
athletics. Once the institutional commitment is defined and understood
by the community, organizations can be formed or structured to attain stated
goals, and managers can develop reasonable plans to achieve objectives.
C. Athletic Board.
Employing a board, council, or committee to advise college or university executives on athletic policy matters is a standard practice. The diversity and intensity of the West Point curriculum dictate the need for a representative, knowledgeable body to advise the Superintendent on athletic policy. Presently, the Academy supports approximately 59 sports at levels which include intercollegiate, club, intramural, physical education instruction, and recreation services. The diversity of the program is further amplified by the existence of intercollegiate "JV" or freshman teams backing up most varsity squads as well as the imminent establishment of a comparable structure for women cadets.
In comparison to athletic committees at most other schools, the Athletic Board is unique in its composition and scope of deliberations. In addition to a balance of faculty members and representatives of other university activities, many institutions include students and alumni on their boards whereas the Athletic Board at West Point is weighted heavily with senior personnel. In the majority of institutions, although not specifically stated, athletic committees exist as much for the purpose of serving as a community sounding board to assist athletic department heads as they do for advising institutional executives on specific athletic policy.
Because of the authority of the Athletic Board, the degree of autonomy accorded the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at West Point to manage Army Athletic Association business is noticeably less than that found at other institutions. The Athletic Board involves itself in the operations and business practices of the AAA in great detail, which may be attributed to a lack of confidence In AAA management. Conversely, AAA management may not have been effective because of this involvement. Another possible reason for Athletic Board's involvement is the threat, real or imagined, of "big time" athletics detracting from the military and academic programs. Whatever the reasons, the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics cannot be held reasonably accountable for management of the AAA as long as the Athletic Board continues to exercise direct influence and involvement on most facets of AAA operations.
Based on a review of other institutions' experience, a standing committee on athletics, advisory to the Superintendent on athletic policy matters, could ensure an integrated, coordinated and balanced program at West Point. Since the expansion of the Corps in the mid sixties, a significant growth in extracurricular athletic activities has occurred and is growing further with the introduction of women cadets. Several activities, to include the AAA, Office of Physical Education (OPE); Cadet Activities Office (CAO) and Recreation Services Division, compete for West Point's limited athletic resources. The need for an organizational focal point to ensure a reasonable balance among these competing demands has become increasingly apparent. In lieu of the current Athletic Board, a representative athletic committee, advisory in nature and responsible for looking at the total athletic program, to include facilities, should be considered.
In the final analysis, regardless of how such
a committee is structured, it is imperative that it be advisory to the
Superintendent so as not to infringe on the management prerogatives and
responsibilities of the DIA. In this regard, the charter of the athletic
committee should be as precise and definitive as possible.
D. Director of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA).
In today's competitive world of intercollegiate
athletics, one of the greatest challenges to athletic directors is business
management. All athletic directors interviewed advocated the increasing
need for business experience and ability to manage a successful athletic
program. In addition to business experience, the DIA should also be a West
Point graduate knowledgeable of intercollegiate athletics. In short, precise
selection criteria for the DIA should be determined, promulgated and applied
when the occasion for his selection requires. Further, the performance
of the DIA should be evaluated not only on the won and lost column and
the financial posture of the AAA but additionally on his relationship with
the community and the institution. Lastly, the position of DIA should be
accorded additional prominence by including him as a member of select Academy
committees or boards so that better communications and understanding are
E. Army Athletic Association (AAA).
In the last 20 years the AAA management structure has expanded with the proliferation of assistant athletic directors and coaches reporting to the DIA. This wide span of control, short tenure of the DIA, and the dominant role of the Athletic Board may have been responsible for deficiencies in long-range financial and facilities plans, promotional accomplishments, and overall organizational effectiveness. Expeditious functional realignment and revitalization of the AAA is necessary to provide for a dynamic organization which is competitive within the Academy and NCAA environments.
The AAA has proliferated the title of "Assistant Athletic Director" without attendant increases in responsibility accorded such positions. At present, the DIA has five assistant athletic directors, four additional activity managers and more than twenty varsity coaches reporting to him. Fewer assistant athletic directors with broadened roles would reduce the current span of control of the DIA.
Appropriated fund support for intercollegiate athletics derives from multiple sources. The current level of funding has been reached incrementally over many years and appears to have been determined primarily by availability of appropriated funds at West Point and not through consideration of entitlements or requirements of the Office of the DIA. In comparable civilian institutions up to two-thirds of athletic operation budgets are supported by the school or the alumni from funds other than the athletic departments.
The AAA has not placed sufficient emphasis on improvement of financial posture through increased promotional activities and programs. Ticket sales, local AAA chapters, and fund raising campaigns in coordination with activities sponsored by the Association of Graduates could be further exploited to reduce the financial burden. Additionally, the absence of a long-range financial plan provides the opportunity for inadvertent, inconsistent and uneconomical decision making by AAA elements responsible for financial management and planning. Organizationally, the ticket manager has been an assistant director equal to the business manager. The recent decision to place ticket management under the Assistant DIA for business was sound. Consideration should also be given to combining other AAA functions that impact directly on financial management. Such reorganization would establish clear responsibility and authority for financial management and business functions under one organizational element and enhance coordination for those activities whose roles impact on the AAA financial posture.
Most major institutions give considerable emphasis to athletic promotion because of its major impact on revenue and recruiting. The promotional challenge at the Academy exceeds that of most institutions because of the magnitude of the athletic program, the corresponding resources required to sustain it, and the expectations generated from West Point's past reputation for excellence in athletics. As part of the overall promotion effort, media coverage of Army athletics in the locality of West Point and vicinity is excellent but the Academy is a national institution and aggressive efforts should be made for extensive national media coverage. The AAA contributes to the total promotional program of the institution by scheduling intercollegiate contests geographically dispersed on a national basis. Because the Academy strives to attract outstanding scholar athletes from all over the country, comprehensive media coverage nationwide is essential to capitalize on its geographically representative scheduling.
Press relations provide the means to generate good media coverage. Coaches, professors, officer representatives, key institutional executives, cadets, and staff and faculty should support the DIA in this important program. It is the perception of many personnel affiliated with intercollegiate athletics that top military officials at the Academy are reluctant to endorse the promotional effort in an outward aggressive manner. To further enhance this program, press relationships and facilities for major athletic events require improvement.
The established office for promotion of intercollegiate athletics at West Point is the Sports Information Office (SIO) which is a branch of the Public Affairs Office (PAO). Although supportive of many of the informational needs of the AAA, the office is not staffed with sufficient personnel or with the requisite expertise to maintain an aggressive, well rounded promotional program. Consequently, some essential promotional functions are delegated to assistant athletic directors and coaches. The AAA should consider the establishment of a promotional office, headed by a qualified individual on a personal service contract basis, under which the present Sports Information Office would function as one part.
The responsibility of the Director of Athletics to encourage outstanding scholar athletes to attend the Academy cannot be overemphasized. Considering contemporary attitudes concerning a career as an Army officer, the demanding academic curriculum, and the five-year obligation, it is another of the most challenging responsibilities of the DIA. Because of its importance, visibility and controversy, the process employed by the DIA to encourage scholar athletes to seek admission to West Point warrants constant evaluation and emphasis.
An athlete selection program requires significant assistance from outside sources in order to be successful. The key to success is communication through efficient and effective dialogue with the field. The current athletic recruiting program is only marginally effective. Significant improvement must be made in this important area. Regardless of the ability of the coach, the quality of the athlete determines eventual success in attaining a winning program. Our research indicates that many athletes recruited by the Army Athletic Association have failed to earn a letter in the sport for which they were recruited. Certainly this area needs immediate attention. Statistics should be carefully compiled in order to determine the effectiveness of the recruiting program. Academy graduates, especially former lettermen, have indicated to the study group their dissatisfaction with the current recruiting program in that they have little opportunity to participate in the system. This important source of assistance should be exploited by revising current recruiting programs.
Because of the significant influence a coach has on the cadet development process, a large part of the criteria used by the AAA to select a suitable coach is already predetermined--similar to the criteria for a tactical officer, instructor or staff member. The key variables in the selection process for a coach are professionalism and competence in his sport. In recent years the level of coaching expertise considered or even the decision to hire or fire a coach or assistant coach was based primarily on the AAA financial posture without sufficient consideration of the needs or priorities accorded each sport as part of the overall program. The required degree of professionalism and competence desired of a coach of a particular sport should be predicated on the goals and objectives of the institution for the particular sport. Since more than 20 varsity teams engage in NCAA competition, and sports for women cadets will soon be added, decisions concerning priorities among sports and levels of competition by sport must be made. Such ordering of priorities by competitive level will place each sport in proper perspective and contribute to the establishment of reasonable coach selection criteria.
The number of civilian assistant coaches authorized in order of priority, by sport, should be clearly stipulated on a timely basis. Institutional goals for each sport and the experience of other successful institutions in that sport should be considered. Criteria for civilian assistant coaches should include utility as assistant or head coaches in other sports. Contractual arrangements for civilian assistant coaches, to include those with dual capacity, should be relatively consistent and comparable.
In addition to the ability of the coach to win, to recruit, to assume a leadership role with cadets, and to represent the institution, his performance also should be measured on administrative ability to include participation in the budget process. All coaches should be required to participate in the complete budget process, to accept the responsibility of operating within mutually agreed upon budget limits, and to make a positive contribution to more effective financial management. The maintenance and annual update of a three-to five-year budget projection should in itself serve as the needed catalyst to ensure greater coach participation and accountability.
Because of the unique environment of West Point, intercollegiate athletics have problems and challenges not found at civilian institutions. Innovation, dedication, and institutional commitment are required to ensure excellence in intercollegiate athletics. Athletics play an important role in the cadet development process and all concerned should measurably contribute to this process.
Extracurricular activities can play a vital role in developing the cadet into a well-rounded Regular Army officer. When they are broadening, educational, and voluntary, they contribute to cadet welfare and morale and enhance cadet intellectual, physical, and moral development. Cadets may participate in intercollegiate athletic competition, other than varsity sports, through such club sports such as rugby, volleyball, and water polo. Although free to join any activities that interest them, they are cautioned against becoming unwisely overcommitted.
The Cadet Activities Office (CAO) is responsible for the supervision of all clubs or activities. Activities are started or ended according to cadet interest; final approving authority rests with the Commandant. The CAO monitors this interest level very closely, in part by reviewing annually the minutes of all clubs. Of course, budgetary restraints also check unwarranted growth in the types and numbers of activities offered.
The clubs or activities are categorized into six groups (see Figure 1): academic group (17), competitive athletic group (15), military skills group (8), recreational group (3), religious participation group (10), and support group (26). Each group is monitored by a specific office having a direct interest in that group. For example, the Director of the Office of Physical Education monitors the competitive athletic group; the Director of the Office of Military Instruction has responsibility for the military skills group; and the Chaplain looks after the religious participation group. Group monitors provide guidance and assistance to the various officers-in-charge, recommend changes in activity policies and regulations, and submit nominations for officers-in-charge. The officers-in-charge (OIC) are volunteers from the staff and faculty, who are endorsed by the Commandant and approved by the Superintendent. The OIC supervises the cadet-in-charge (CIC) of the activity, enforces pertinent regulations, and attends club meetings and trips.
The Study Group found that the Cadet Activities Office, functioning under the Commandant, was generally innovative and enthusiastic in serving cadets and their guests. There have been several recent changes that reflect more efficient management. Budgetary and fund disbursing activities are consolidated under a single manager. Presently, new contracts are being negotiated for cadet use of hotels during football trips in order to provide better but less expensive facilities. The cadet hostess has been given more autonomy in order to improve her effectiveness.
The Study Group concludes that extracurricular activities at West Point are well managed and serve the needs of the cadets. Numerous and varied, they broaden cadets intellectually, physically and professionally and expand their interests.
|ACADEMIC GROUP (17)
Aeronautics & Astronautics
|COMPETITIVE ATHLETIC GROUP (15)
|SUPPORT GROUP (26)
|RELIGIOUS PARTICIPATION GROUP (10)
Cadet Chapel Choir
|MILITARY SKILLS GROUP (8)
Proceed directly to Chapter 9 (next section)
Table of Contents