Friday, December 6, 2013

Kinda Makes You Wonder

Apparently, the Cadets of the USAF Academy, at least in the eyes of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, engage in sufficient inappropriate, if not criminal activity to warrant the use of "confidential informants" within the Corps of Cadets.

Now, that raises a raft of questions in my mind. Among (but not all) the reasons I might see for this practice being necessary are:

The Cadet Honor Code is a farce, as honoring the Code would preclude the need for CIs.

Inappropriate and/or criminal behavior is so rampant the Cadets must be under constant covert surveillance.

The entire moral compass of the USAFA (USAF?) is severely screwed up.  (Here, I would mention the numerous documented cases of religious "oppression" and/or discrimination by leaders at the Academy)

Both my daughters are Alumi of New York Military Academy.  NYMA subscribed to the same Honor Code as nearby West Point (and the USAFA).  They taught that the Honor Code was both an individual and collective responsibility.  They were counseled that it was a Cadet's  responsibility to guide their fellow Cadet away from unacceptable behavior, before the fact, if possible, not just report it.  As my older daughter (who was not, in any way, a Goodie Two Shoes) put it, "It's not about being a 'narc', Dad, but keeping each other on the right path."  The girl's TAC Officer, a former Woman Marine, had a sign in the girl's "barracks" (dorm) that read something like, "It isn't getting caught that is a violation of regs.  It is your actions that violate the regs."  While the TACs were understanding and aware of minor transgressions, and sometimes allowed them under a discrete and watchful eye to give the Cadets a feeling of "stretching their wings", general discipline was well enforced, yet never oppressive.   To this day, my daughters express the value of their years at NYMA in helping form their moral compass, with one often joking, "You did a good job, Dad, but getting a second opinion on the same wavelength carries a lot of weight with a kid.".  The elder of the two openly expresses how her "NYMA Experience" helped her raise her two sons.  NYMA employed no equivalent techniques such as "CIs".  It was the combined efforts of the Academy Staff and Cadets that got the job done.

If it works with high school aged kids, what is missing at Colorado Springs that requires such draconian and secretive measures?


23 comments:

  1. There's a reason you didn't think of - because the people who run the Air Force (or at least the OSI) are the sort of people who itch uncontrollably whenever they don't have a bunch of spies, informers and compromised individuals. Think Stasi in blue, or how the NSA has metastisized wildly.

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  2. I suppose what this come back to is the question "who the hell is in charge here?" Apparently in this case it sure isn't the cadre, who seem to have been unable to prevent the dopers and rapists from doing their business, and it doesn't seem to have been the cadet chain-of-command, either.

    My instinct would have been to make changes in the leadership; apparently the USAF (or at least its internal security agency) believes that the way to solve these problems is to use police methods. I have absolutely no idea whether that will work, but I can't imagine that it will be beneficial for the officer cadet program. 20-year-old kids like to party, smoke weed, and fuck - including other passed-out 20-year-old kids. There's a shock - film at 11...

    What the hell did the USAF think was going to happen in college, even if it was a college where everybody wears the same clothes?

    Frankly, the overarching question I've always had (beyond this article) has been "Are the service academies a good return on investment?"

    The notion that a four-year education plus hazing can turn an 18-year-old kid into a combat leader...well, it does seem to work for some.

    But my personal experience is that the USMA doesn't produce a 2LT of significantly better ability than do most ROTC or OCS programs and in some aspects West Point (and, presumably Colorado Springs) seems to instill some pretty pernicious ideas in their students' heads (not all that surprising, given the sort of things that college-age kids often believe).

    So I guess my thoughts are:

    1. The USAF seems to be treating the symptoms with police work rather than cure the student body with leadership, and

    2. Expecting a bunch of twentysomethings to act like anything but a bunch of twentysomethings without creating the conditions that physically prevent them from doing so seems unrealistic, at best...

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  3. Th academy leadership is running scared. Someone put the fear of God in them. Sure would like to hear Publius' opine on this. Anybody heard from him lately?

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  4. Chief: Expecting a bunch of twentysomethings to act like anything but a bunch of twentysomethings without creating the conditions that physically prevent them from doing so seems unrealistic, at best...

    F. Hamilton Whipple, the Principal at our town's combined Junior High and High School for many years gave the following guidance at the first assembly of each school year-

    Boys will be boys, girls will be girls, teens will be teens. Thus, the odds are that one, some and/or all of you will do something incredibly stupid this year. However, those odds neither excuse such acts nor lift your responsibility for your acts. Thus, when you commit a stupid act, I expect you to step forward, take responsibility and accept the consequences. If you do, I will take that into account in determining such consequences. If you don't, that will also have a major bearing on the severity of the consequences.

    At reunion after reunion, we would remark about Mr Whipple's "Teens will be teens" speech, how he lived up to his words, and how valuable a lesson it was for all of us. Truth be told, we later figured out, and a couple of faculty members confirmed in later years, that the "The Whip" generally knew who the miscreant was before the student stepped forward. Yet if you stepped forward in a timely manner, he was gracious about it all. As one classmate remarked, "The beauty of the lesson Mr Whipple taught us is that discipline does not have to be an adversarial relationship."

    One thing that bewilders me is OSI "investigating" what are essentially non-criminal disciplinary infractions. Sexual assault is one matter, but unauthorized wild parties and secret off campus motorcycles? Isn't that what the Cadet and Academy Chain of Command should be dealing with? If the USAFA leadership was surrendering such disciplinary matters to the OSI, then why have leaders in the first place?

    The whole thing smacks of an adversarial relationship, with the Academy leaders leaving the dirty work to OSI. Thus, producing generations of "leaders" who see disciplinary matters as secretive, covert, adversarial affairs.

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  5. Mike,
    My guess is that Publius is running agents in the student body.
    I think the religeous orientation of the AF academy would minimize honor violations, but ....
    jim

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  6. Publius is only one of several I haven't heard anything from lately . . . whatever that might mean . . .

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  7. Al-

    I'll have to ask our daughters about their high school experiences in the local German school . . .

    Supposedly - that is among the Portuguese - they were very strict, but our experiences were the contrary . . . rich kids . . . rich kids parents . . . school needs money . . . you get the idea.

    Still, I don't regret it. Our kids received a good education, a proper method of study, which has and continues to carry them forward to this day. I think especially in the critical way that the Germans approached language . . . and the supposed meanings involved or even manipulated. Useful that.

    The question of this thread as I see it regards the "political" for lack of a better term. In this case affecting especially Air Force officers/candidates . . .

    What has been the history of the USAF over the last 10+ years . . . how have they measured up during the war on terror as compared to the other services? And NO!, not tied into budget disasters, useless fighter planes, which aren't going to have a long shelf life in terms of generating fiscal momentum? Actually how much of the future pie does the USAF have?

    "Drone warfare"? Killing, or more, from a seemingly absolute distance. Murder by "other means"? One would require a specific type of officer in order to even hope for operational excellence over time, under those conditions . . .

    So, given the options, and conditions today, from a strategic theory perspective, why wouldn't they try?

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  8. seydlitz-

    I'm trying to envision how an environment such as this could produce a functional officer corps, regardless of the mission.

    These are young adults still in their formative years. Effectively, the Academy is saying that surreptitious CIs will perform the core function of the Honor Code, in return for their being forgiven their own expulsion worthy offenses. There's a big difference, IMHO, between planting spies from without and "turning" Cadets from within in a manner approaching extortion.

    An member of the military should comply with law and regulation because he knows first that such is proper and second that his fellow service members, to the man (or woman), expects nothing else. Simply worrying about "who's the snitch" doesn't lend itself to developing a sound moral compass. We are not talking about "turning" criminals in a criminal environment. We are talking about developing and selecting future leaders.

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  9. Al-

    I guess what I mean by "political" is the reason an officer or soldier, sailor, airman, Marine serves. The military serves the state, but the reason, excuse, whatever you wish to call social action orientated towards "legitimacy" in that sort of social political activity the specific group acknowledges or seeks . . .

    Is in fact the USAF sending a very clear message with this? It's not about "we" anymore, it's about "us" and "you" . . . Anyone can be a CI and anyone can be ratted on by a CI . . . The young officers resulting from this would be interesting to follow over the next ten years.

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  10. Off topic - but South Korea has just designated a new ADIZ overlapping China's new one.

    south-korea-air-defense-zone-rattles-china/

    I for one am hoping that the Korean Air Force Academy at Cheongdu instills discretion and prudence in their aspiring officers.

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  11. seydlitz: The young officers resulting from this would be interesting to follow over the next ten years.

    I would guess they will be like the older officers who are in charge of this "culture". It was O-6 and O-7 level "leaders" that created the atmosphere of religious intolerance at USAFA. Cadets of similar ilk simply saw it as acceptable behavior.

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  12. To all,
    I have had a personal friendship with Publius and i will convey our best wishes to him for the holidays.
    I will advise him that he is missed.
    jim hruska

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    1. Good idea jim, please give Publius our regards.

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    2. Great idea; pass on our greetings. Thanks!

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  13. "I would guess they will be like the older officers who are in charge of this "culture". It was O-6 and O-7 level "leaders" that created the atmosphere of religious intolerance at USAFA. Cadets of similar ilk simply saw it as acceptable behavior. "

    This is important; the USAFA has had serious corruption issues (from the top, of course) for probably forty years now.

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  14. Aviator 47: "The whole thing smacks of an adversarial relationship, with the Academy leaders leaving the dirty work to OSI. Thus, producing generations of "leaders" who see disciplinary matters as secretive, covert, adversarial affairs."

    Hmmmmmmmm. That certainly speaks ill of the Academy leadership.

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    1. As I said, this seems to suggest that the top AF brass has more-or-less abandoned hopes that the actual Academy cadre and student leaders are doing any actual, you know, "leading"...

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  15. but but but .... leading might interfere with flight time !@!#$%

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  16. To all,
    I sent our greetings to Publius with no corresponding reply.
    jim

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  17. Jim -

    Publius has not posted or commented here for over two years. I fear the worst as he was my age or older.

    But perhaps he just got fed up with our bickering?

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  18. Mike,
    I believe that Publius is probably doing well.
    He signed off voluntarily.
    jim

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