Jason Torpy of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers is currently engaged in his annual campaign on atheism at the US military academies, which coincides with basic training at each service academy. The Christian Post picked up on his discussion, and noted that some version of non-sectarian offering was available during basic training to new cadets.
Chaplain Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty acknowledges that those who choose to have no religious faith also have rights — but questions their desire to mimic religious institutions and have chaplains: Continue reading →
While some may consider the military academies somewhat interchangeable, its interesting to see the differences in “culture” at each institution. For example, the “most popular major” at USAFA is said to be aero/astro engineering, at Annapolis its economics/history, and at West Point its business and economics. And, as last year, it seems the Merchant Marine Academy has a reputation to overcome.
Interestingly, USAFA fell off the scale on “most religious students” — and West Point took its place.
These rankings put service academies in the same tier as Ivy League colleges. The Air Force Academy placed at No. 16 in 2008 and No. 7 in 2009.
For the 2010 rankings, the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., ranked fourth on the list, while the U.S. Naval Academy came in at 29th, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy ranked No. 105, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy earned the No. 165 ranking.
The US Air Force Academy recently reported some of the results from its 2009 climate survey. The survey is similar to those given to other military units in order to assess everything from racial relations to quality of life.
The superintendent, LtGen Mike Gould, is reportedly focused on instilling an atmosphere of respect for human dignity, and he has seen some success:
In many ways, the climate has shifted toward greater respect for all Airmen here regardless of their race, gender, religious beliefs or socioeconomic backgrounds. Continue reading →
Because Islam literally means, “submission to God,” Johnston once told a hostile group of 57 Taliban commanders, religious figures and tribal leaders, meeting with him in the mountains of Pakistan, “we’re all Muslim.”
Johnston undoubtedly has his critics and supporters. However, he and his organization make one point abundantly clear: religion cannot merely be “dismissed,” as some would have it. Sectarian faith is a central to the lives and cultures of billions around the world. The integration of an understanding of faith with government, military, and public operations will benefit nations’ strategic goals. Conversely, ignoring the instrinsic value and importance of faith will hinder national objectives, whether they be diplomatic, military or even humanitarian.
It should be common knowledge by now that the US military academies routinely rank among the best colleges in the country by a variety of standards. The academies routinely top the Princeton Review’s Best Value Colleges, and all the military academies were on it. Of course, having a quality education with zero tuition does much for the value calculation.
The academies also top the 2011 Best Colleges pubished by the Princeton Review (see the 2010 list), which includes relative ranking criteria on a variety of “interesting” subjects. The Air Force Academy again rises to the top on most conservative and most religious students. The other academies were also consistently near the top on conservative, politically active, and “least happy” students, with slight variations. (One unusual hit was at the Merchant Marine Academy, which took low marks on its professors.) Other rankings: Continue reading →
A slew of recent articles were recently published on the entrance of the new military academy classes into their summer training sessions. It was interesting to see a pattern emerge with reference to each of the institutions:
Bruce Fleming, a 23-year professor of English at the US Naval Academy, publishes a fairly scathing critique of the military academy construct at the New York Times (oddly timed as the Academies host their graduations this week). He blasts the cost, the apparent lack of unique ability, preferential treatment of football players, the apparent trend of “unofficial affirmative action,” and the “backdoor” for less-qualified students in the preparatory school.
Fleming has long been a commentator on, and largely a critic of, the institution that employs him (and he has received some grief for it). He questioned Continue reading →
Some of the interest in ethics is tied to the wars: the black eye of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, concerns that stress from unconventional conflict leads to bad decisions, and, for at least one retired general, the sense that the military lost the public’s trust in Iraq.
Officers involved in the effort say that eventually a soldier’s grounding in ethics — strong or weak — will become a factor in promotions.
Two of the primary places that ethics might intentionally be taught in the Army include the US Military Academy at West Point and the Command and General Staff College at Leavenworth. The need for ethical maturity has already been recognized in some sense at the military academies. Each has its own variation of a “character development center.”
Oddly, the director of military ethics at West Point provided a contradictory assessment of ethics in the Army: Continue reading →