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07 September 2011


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William R. Cumming

Are there any recent studies of who exactly attends the Service Academies and the appointment process?

Reading a book about the Class of 1846 at West Point.

George Pickett last in that class.

Patrick Lang


You are now about 50 years behind. these are now predominately blue collar institurions. as a result there is little notion of "noblesse oblige." sorry folks, you need to raise your children better if you want to avoid "caesarism." pl


We have been in a wartime situation for almost 10 years. What is the problem with wearing combat fatigues stateside? They are fighting and dying for real these days. So let them wear the battle dress.

I had many,many former academy guys from all services,as copilots. I have to admit, the ringer knockers are of a higher quality in general.


The service academies are highly academically competitive and are attended by some of the best student leaders in the country. http://www.forbes.com/colleges/united-states-military-academy/


William R. Cumming

My understanding is many first generation citizens are now in attendance at the service academies! Is this a correct understanding. Also many "legacy" admission of Flag Ranks? To what degree is the admission process a meritocracy?

Hank Foresman

In his short time as the CSA, General Dempsey has ended the wearing of the field uniform in the Pentagon and within the Washington area. Hopefully the practice of allowing field uniform on public transportation while on temporary duty will end soon also.

Green Zone Cafe

Army making Blues the primary Class A uniform: good

Navy bringing back dress khakis: good

Navy going to khaki shirts and black trousers as office working uniform for E1-6: bad

Navy "camo" uniform: bad
USAF "camo" uniform: bad

USMC camo uniforms: good
All USMC uniforms: good

Army replacing desert and woodland camo with all-purpose camo (except the new Afghanistan uniform): bad

Now, if the Army could just bring back cotton khakis again, that would be great.

Patrick Lang


I think the trend is correct but not sure that the present Army blue uniform is not a little too "gaudy' for everyday wear. Perhaps it could be toned down a bit by taking some of the gold off it? one thing i would favor is having EM stripes, etc. be in their branch color. Infantry blue, armor yellow, atillery red, etc. that is what the uniform was in days of yore. pl

Patrick Lang


It is largely a meritocratic process. General officer legacies, minorities, and other groups like prospective athletes are just a little more meritorious than plain white boys like eisenhower was. pl

Patrick Lang


They are very good schools populated with kids with the best test scores and resumes in the country. Why not? They are free and the kid is paid a salary while studying. the cadets are largely taught by amateur teachers like me and the schools are enormously expensive to run. They also generate a clique that dominates the armed forces. they do not have to raise money. they are fully funded with appropriated DoD money. all their graduates have jobs when they leave. the graduates have no debts. should these lieutenant factories be ranked against actual free market colleges? pl

Patrick Lang


They are not fighting in Washington or traveling around CONUS. pl

Patrick Lang


A higher quality than what? Other airline pilots? pl


A higher quality than what? Other airline pilots? pl


In my opinion, the Ring Knockers, were just a cut above, in just about any department,you wanted to judge them in. I would fly with these guys for a month, and you can form a pretty accurate opinion, in that amount of time.

An exception to this were the female Academy types, by and large. They had no real passion or feeling about much of anything, the military, flying, etc. Now, they were competent pilots, but no passion for it.

Before the anquished howls of self righteous indignation, go up out there in Bloggerville,concerning my sexist remarks. In my immediate family, I have two female PhDs, a skirt MBA, and my dear old mother was an extremely successful business woman.

Now, I didn't say, I particularly cared for the Academy types, when I was in the Corps. And I suspect, if I had stayed around for peace time, I would have developed, an active antipathy for them.



"We have been in a wartime situation for almost 10 years."

War, what war? All that is requried is a yellow ribbon on the assend of the SUV, a complaint about taxes, and submission to authority. Thus the uniforms all over give the image 'we are at war'.

Recall the headlines "Health care costs are eating DOD alive" and 'Pension reform' for the military is required. The only war is over money and power.

William P. Fitzgerald III


The wearing of fatigues/ battle dress is perfectly all right with me when washing tracked vehicles, marching to rifle ranges and other such activities associated with soldiering. For off-post things like travel, class A's should be required. Khakis or tropical worsted for the summer uniform would be my preference.

Wearing fatigues while working in an office no where near any combat or field training situation seems to be a pretentious bid to appear warlike.




"... best test scores and resumes in the country..." Why that'l be some comfort if the young lieutenant get a bunch of America's soldiers killed because combat skills are not covered on a multiple choice test at 8am with a #2 pencil and a cup of joe.

"...should these lieutenant factories be ranked against actual free market colleges."

No, however like a number of universities what now seems important is not an education but the 'prestige' the diploma brings. As you pointed out in the National Journal the real question is what we would do with our armed forces in the future and to what end? What is imporatant is what type of junior military leader is required. A top score on the SAT/ATC ad nausem is of zero value when bullets are flying about. Perhaps, since the cadets are members of the military first, cadets should all be in the enlisted ranks for some period of years first then admitted to the academy?

Bill H.

"one thing i would favor is having EM stripes, etc. be in their branch color. Infantry blue, armor yellow, atillery red, etc."

Yes, very much yes. And get rid of the French beret.

Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA

A retired Army colonel I worked with a couple of years ago was grousing about Air Force guys wearing Nomex bags aka flight suits as a duty uniform, though not actively flying. I told him I agreed, as they are a utility uniform labeled as "coveralls".

But I added that I don't like any of the services running around in fatigues/utilities/BDUs as a daily uniform for office work. Yes, we are a "nation at war" but how does wearing BDUs at (the former) JFCOM in Norfolk advance any objective?

When I enlisted in '68, we still had the much loved Air Force 1505's, tropical worsted blues and the winter horse blanket blues. Utility uniforms were worn for their intended purpose only.


War, what war?...Fred

Dear Fred,

Approximately 12,000 American families have buried military sons and daughters KIAd since 2003.

I suspect they would call it a war.....you freakin idiot!

Green Zone Cafe

Col., WPFitzIII:

I like the idea of more branch identification in the stripes and piping of the Army uniform.

One issue that I've bumped up against is the outright ban on wear of the working uniform off-post. You can't stop at the store on the way home to pick up a gallon of milk in your cammies? Ridiculous and a morale-killer.

The point is that workers at the Pentagon and other urban garrisons and offices should wear a dress or working dress uniform, not that soldiers at the range or sailors on ships have to change before they go to the convenience store on the way home.

The Twisted Genius

Like many here, I find the wearing of field uniforms in office environments off putting. I don't blame troops for doing it. It's a hell of a lot easier to wear BDUs rather than class A or B uniforms. There are also some REMFs that probably feel they're "Johnny high speeds" or "Billy bad asses" walking the corridors of the Pentagon in combat uniforms. There is little uniformity in Army uniforms in the Military District of Washington... sleeves up, sleeves down, black fleece jackets, grey/green fleece jackets, goretex jackets, gloves, no gloves, several different kinds of boots. This can all be seen in one short walk from a metro station. Why can't MDW issue a uniform policy?

The first few times I saw the new Army class B uniform, I thought they were foreign troops. Although I like the return to blues, I don't like the white shirt and blue pants of the new class B. I preferred the khakis.



You miss both my point and my sarcasm. The 'troops' are at war, 'we' aren't. The Armed Forces swear an oath to protect and defend the constitution. Yes, they've gone where ordered and won every battle. Yet Congress- the only elected body with the Constitutional authority to do so - has not issued a declaration of war.

Congress has, however, quite successfully declared 'tax cuts are the most important thing in time of war' and followed that belief by creating a 'financial/budget crisis' and are quite busy reforming the social programs enacted in the heights of the Great Depression. Why can’t I question the Policies of the Congress without an obligatory recitation of the virtues of the troops and their service? The political leadership has failed them and us; undermined the Constitution and continues to do so.

Why is the 'war' worth thousands KIA and yet not worth a single tax cut? Why is it acceptable to hear multimillionaire Congressman say military pensions need reform, DOD health care costs are eating DOD alive and NO we can't raise taxes; yet if not articulated in the approved fashion a disagreement with these policies is ‘idiotic’?


Ten years ago West Point was actively recruiting my daughter for an athletic admission. She had been an all county athlete and was in the top 10 of her high school class, so she would be competitive in any case.

My point is that they research an applicant's pedigree. The fact that I had been a ROTC grad (not OCS) on active duty during Viet Nam and had retired from the reserves added luster to her application packet. The coach referred to her fitting the 'profile'.

One place where there was a definite pecking order was for general's aides. Ring knockers had the inside track with VMI and Citadel grads somewhat behind. One aide was fourth generation West Point and had served in the Armored Cav Regt where his father had previously been commander. Talk about unbranched family trees.

I wasn't envious of an aide's slot and thought of them spending a lot of time preening themselves. I was holding a slot three or four grades higher than what I wore and was, as my SGM put it, learning C&GSC on an OJT basis.

Patrick Lang


Too bad you weren't an ADC. You sound like just the type along with petraeus and clark. pl


Sorry Pat, but I don't have that out of central casting look. Besides being inordinately tall I have the remnants of a stammer. I was over the height limit at that time and was in the Army on a waiver.

I was moved to a corps HQ because of having taken a one credit programming course as an undergrad, which was a lot of knowledge in the middle 60s. I make no claim to superior intellect; I just happened to be there when the section ran out of officers and muddled through as best I could.

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