Racism at West Point
The superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point said that he has started to take action about allegations of racism at the historic institution.
Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams told an audience at a discussion on race hosted by the Association of the United States Army that he takes it very seriously that former West Point graduates described personal experiences with racism. A number of West Point alums came to the school June 25 with a 40-page proposal to create an “Anti-Racist West Point.” “I directed my inspector general to do a formal investigation; he has a report out to me, and we are going through the process of it,” Williams said. “It’s an investigation, so I have to be careful about commenting on it, but we took that and are taking it on and looking at it in a very deliberate way.”
The letter lays out an in-depth plan for “uprooting the racism that saturates” the history of West Point, and features several examples of the racist treatment former cadets’ experiences.
One cadet wrote, “I was called a ‘n—–‘ during my freshman year at West Point. Another described how he found a note in his room that contained “a picture of me holding a rifle, photoshopped with a monkey’s face over my own.”
The proposal makes many suggestions for how the academy’s leadership can work to eradicate trappings of past racism at West Point, such as removing all names, monuments and art honoring or venerating Confederate figures. In addition to “Lee Barracks,” which honors Gen. Robert E. Lee, there is also a six-foot painting of Lee that hangs in the lobby of the library, “in which his Black slave stands in the bottom right leading Lee’s white horse.”
“Racism has no place at the United States Military Academy,” said Williams, who is Black. “Like the United States Army, we are committed to eradicating racism within our ranks.”
Williams did not say when the investigation will be complete, but said he welcomed the feedback from the former cadets that raised the issue of racism at West Point.
My comment. There are a few jerks—in this case, people who are insensitive racially—in every group. Being called a name once or having a picture of you modified is hardly living in a racist society. Trust me, combat is much more threatening. If you can’t handle men being honored for their performance in combat—even if it was for the “wrong side” in the Civil War, then you aren’t mature enough to lead our troops in combat. If you know the history of Robert E. Lee you know that he was not a racist; you may not like his choices in the Civil War, but don’t judge his character by that—or I’m free to judge your character when you make a poor decision.
President Made Disparaging Remarks about Our Military?
A new report details multiple instances of President Trump making disparaging remarks about members of our military who have been captured or killed, including referring to the American war dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 as “losers” and “suckers.”
Trump said that the story is “totally false.” The allegations were first reported in The Atlantic. A senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior US Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press, including the 2018 cemetery comments.
The defense officials said Trump made the comments as he begged off visiting the cemetery outside Paris during a meeting following his presidential daily briefing on the morning of Nov. 10, 2018.
Staffers from the National Security Council and the Secret Service told Trump that rainy weather made helicopter travel to the cemetery risky, but they could drive there. Trump responded by saying he didn’t want to visit the cemetery because it was “filled with losers,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
The White House blamed the canceled visit on poor weather at the time. In another conversation on the trip, The Atlantic said, Trump referred to the 1,800 Marines who died in the WWI battle of Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
Trump emphatically denied the Atlantic report, calling it “a disgraceful situation” by a “terrible magazine.”
Speaking to reporters after he returned to Washington from a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Trump said: “I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more. No animal — nobody — what animal would say such a thing?”
Trump also reiterated the White House explanation of why he didn’t visit the cemetery. “The helicopter could not fly,” he said, because of the rain and fog. “The Secret Service told me you can’t do it. … They would never have been able to get the police and everybody else in line to have a president go through a very crowded, very congested area.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “It’s sad the depths that people will go to during a lead-up to a presidential campaign to try to smear somebody.”
My comment: These accusations of the President making such statements about our military are, first, without any verifiable source, and, second, totally contrary to his public and verifiable actions, words, and feelings. President Trump is far from perfect, but these comments are blatant lies.
Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
First Medal of Honor in Fight Against ISIS
An Army sergeant major who bravely rescued 75 prisoners from the clutches of ISIS in Iraq will receive the military’s highest valor award on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 territory attacks, the White House announced.
Sgt. Maj. Thomas “Patrick” Payne will receive the Medal of Honor Sept. 11 at the White House for his actions during a “daring nighttime hostage rescue” Oct. 22, 2015, while he was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition fight against ISIS.
Payne led a combined assault team in liberating hostages during two separate risky forays.
“With speed, audacity, and courage, he first led his team as they quickly cleared the assigned building, liberating 38 hostages,” the White House said in a statement. “Then, upon hearing a request for additional assault team members to assist with clearing the other building, Sergeant Payne, on his own initiative, left his secured position. He exposed himself to enemy fire as he bounded across the compound to the other building from which enemy forces were engaging his comrades.”
After engaging enemy fighters from the roof of that now-burning building, he returned to ground level, fighting his way toward the entrance in a race to save the hostages still inside. Others on the ground had been thwarted from entering due to the fire inside.
“Sergeant Payne knowingly risked his own life by bravely entering the building under intense enemy fire, enduring smoke, heat, and flames to identify the armored door imprisoning the hostages,” the White House statement reads. “Upon exiting, Sergeant Payne exchanged his rifle for bolt cutters and again entered the building, ignoring the enemy rounds impacting the walls around him as he cut the locks on a complex locking mechanism. His courageous actions motivated the coalition assault team members to enter the breach and assist with cutting the locks.”
Payne’s Medal of Honor award was first reported Sept. 2 by the Associated Press, which also reported that the hostages included Kurdish pershmerga fighters facing impending execution by ISIS militants.
For Payne, an 18-year soldier and the 2012 winner of the Army’s Best Ranger competition, the date of his medal presentation is significant, according to White House releases.
Our National Anthem and Professional Sports
Here’s why we sing our National Anthem at sporting events—well, at least we used to do that.
Covid19 Real Stats
The first insights from the new Franklin Templeton–Gallup research project on the behavioral response to the COVID-19 pandemic and implications for the recovery: we find a gross misperception of COVID-19 risk, driven by partisanship and misinformation, and a willingness to pay a significant “safety premium” that could affect future inflation.
The first round of our Franklin Templeton–Gallup Economics of Recovery Study has already yielded three powerful and surprising insights:
1.Americans still misperceive the risks of death from COVID-19 for different age cohorts—to a shocking extent;
My comment: We military folks better understand the facts and not the rumors.
Real Sky Diving
This Austrian astronaut jumped out of a spacecraft from 128,000 feet of altitude, traveled at over 800 mph, and landed on his feet on earth in merely 4 min & 20 seconds.
Being a Real American
This is a speech made by State Representative John DeBerry, Jr. (D-TN). Rep DeBerry is a proud and Honorable Patriotic American who discusses America’s system of justice, and justice for all Americans regardless of their political party. Throughout his speech, Rep DeBerry often refers to his father, a man who raised this Honorable American and taught him to be responsible and love his country. Every American should have the opportunity to listen to Rep DeBerry’s words of wisdom, and benefit from them. He made many selfless recommendations on how Americans can take steps to heal our nation, and said he was making them, even if it would not benefit him politically. Rep DeBerry pointed out that peaceful protests are lawful and end peacefully. He stated he opposes unlawful violent rioting that end up in anarchy and destruction of public property previously paid for by all American taxpayers.
The New Marine Corps
The Marine Corps is building a new state-of-the-art facility where it will run classified wargaming scenarios in preparation for a fight with a high-tech enemy.
A new Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center is expected to be up and running in Quantico, Virginia, by 2024. The 100,000-square foot center, which will be built on the Marine Corps University campus, will host more than a dozen wargames every year — including two large-scale, 250-person exercises, a new announcement on the center states.
“Simulations will offer a realistic representation of future operating environments,” the notice adds.
Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, the head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said earlier this year that the wargaming center will have sophisticated modeling and simulation tools.
“You can change one or two variables and run that thing hundreds of times,” he said.
That will include seeing the results of adding or removing personnel on a simulated battlefield, Smith added, or testing the effect of an enemy missile traveling further than originally thought. The wargames will lead to better real-world experiments with Marines, he said.
“The wargaming center will also allow us to work at all levels of security, meaning from unclassified all the way up to the highest levels of security for specific programs that are very closely held,” Smith said.
Leaders currently travel to the Naval War College in Rhode Island to run classified-level wargames.
The future two-story building at Marine Corps Base Quantico will include an auditorium, gaming classrooms and a graphics production room, according to a May solicitation. The construction on the building is slated to cost less than $50 million, but the Marine Corps asked for $143 million to fund the center in its 2020 budget request.
BAE Systems, which announced last month it won a $19 million contract to build a prototype for the new wargaming center, said it will include artificial intelligence, machine learning, game theory, multi-domain modeling and simulation and predictive data analytics.
The Marine Corps is in the midst of a force-wide overhaul that is reorganizing the service to face off against a sophisticated enemy. It’s getting rid of tank battalions and bridging companies, and cutting thousands of personnel. Commandant Gen. David Berger has said the Marine Corps must be able to travel light as it preps for more time at sea and sends small teams ashore in hotly contested spots.
Jumping – Airborne!
Soldiers jumping out of airplanes – and landing.
Navy Destroyer in Action
Guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) launches an SM-2 missile and fires the MK 45 five-inch gun during Rim of the Pacific 2020
Civil War History
Here are some questions on the Civil War; we’ll post the answers in the next newsletter.
Last issue’s questions:
1.Where was the famous CSS Alabama constructed?
Answer: Liverpool, England
2.During the War, times were tough for all walks of life, particularly in the South. Many had to do with what they had. What were the following items used for other than their primary purpose? persimmons seeds, thorns, charcoal
Answer: Persimmons seeds – buttons, 2 holes bored into a seed
Thorns – pins
Charcoal – brushing teeth, polishing silver
Here are the new questions:
1.What Confederate general enlisted in a regiment he raised and equipped at his own expense and eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant General?
2.Several generals who served in the Civil War became president of the United State after the war. How may were there? And who were they?
In God We Still Trust
Frontlines of Freedom Gear
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Two quotes to consider.
The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
A leader is the man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to do, and like it.
Harry S. Truman
Programming: You’ll want to tune into the show (live or by podcast).
12-18 Sep: Steve Kirby will continue his discussion on the laws of Islam. Army vet Corey Clagett will share more of his story of being convicted of murder for killing the enemy in combat. And Army football Coach Jeff Monken will discuss this season.
19-25 Sept: Steve Kirby will conclude his discussion on the laws of Islam. Navy vet Todd Tissue will share his story. Then Mitch Monnin will discuss his life an an army Ranger and his current position and the vets event he’s planning. And we’ll discuss Service Academy Football with Quinton Roberts.
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Humor: A true story from a West Point classmate:
In the summer of 1962 five of us West Point cadets were touring Europe. We had just finished up some Army training and were on the loose!
We visited Munich, Germany, a big tourist hotspot. We went to the Hofbrauhaus, Munich’s famous and big night club. About 2:00am, we were all about half inebriated, drinking big steins of German beer. Someone had to pee, so we all went to the men’s room. The men’s room was small, but we all crammed in. One of us, a 6ft 4 in basketball player, needed to use the toilet. But you first had to put a ten-pfennig coin (10 cents) in a slot in the door in order to use the toilet.
Hey, we were poor college students on very tight budgets. No way could we afford such extravagances. So, with a chuckle, our varsity basketball player jumped over the stall, and proceeded with his business.
A minute later, the bathroom door flew open, and a small, gray haired woman stormed in, shouting in German. She put a key in the stall door, jerked it open, grabbed him by the arm, and started pulling him off the toilet. Our frien, with his pants down around his ankles, struggled back. It was a hilarious scene. The rest of us were laughing so hard, we could barely stand.
As we later found out, this old lady had been stationed behind a peephole in the wall, watching to make sure that no-one cheated. We had cheated.
Suddenly the dynamics changed. The main door flew open again, and a burly German policeman, big baton in hand, also burst in. Things rapidly got serious. I could just see the headlines in the newspapers. The army had no sense of humor about such matters. We were suddenly sober.
Now at West Point we had been required to study a foreign language. I was the only one in our beleaguered group who had studied German. My speaking ability was limited, at best. But I stepped forward to deal with the situation. Later, my classmates swore that the German beer had improved my German speaking ability tremendously.
After a lengthy and emotional scene, a solution was agreed upon. I gave the lady a ten pfennig coin, our buddy went back to the toilet stall, the policeman shook our hands and left. The German lady glared at us with a victorious smile and stomped off, apparently going back to her peephole.
And I ended up with a big boost to my reputation among my classmates, as an international negotiator who could leap tall buildings with a single bound.
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Lt. Col. Denny Gillem (Ret.)