West Point Realities

Most Americans think of West Point and the other military academies as colleges. Yes, we know that they are there to educate the future officer corps of each branch of the military, but often our public image of them is that of Saturday afternoon football games or the traditional Army-Navy game with its traditions. But here is the other side of those academies.

These two videos give a visual sense of the nitty gritty training that cadets at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point get on their way to a college degree. One is of the “boot camp” experience before they begin their freshman year and the military “Leadership Training” camp they attend later on in their time at the USMA.

Photo: YouTube/West Point – The U.S. Military Academy

There is a two-pronged end desired for those who attend the USMA; one is to get a college degree, and the other is to become an Army officer.

Boot camp is the primary experience of all who go into any of the branches of our military services. Its function is multi-faceted. It is to introduce the service member to the particular service’s culture and to develop the physical and mental capacities necessary for that service’s needs. And, yes, future, potential officers go through it too. The first video gives a quick, visual overview of what boot camp looks like for the cadets at the USMA.

The second video may seem similar, but the Leadership Training camp is designed to introduce these future officers to the skills that they might be called upon to use in combat, or in any leadership role. The need for good leadership is always present, and these USMA cadets represent the future of the U.S.Army’s officer corps needs.

As an enlisted and a combat veteran, I have shared in the sometimes humorous and sometimes sardonic conversations about newbie officers and their lack of experience or perceived incompetence as freshly graduated lieutenants who are thrown into their roles as raw as we were when we first arrived. But most learn the ropes quickly, just like we enlisted types did. Training is one thing, but the realities and experiences of actual leadership are another. Having the basic skills and the abilities to learn and adapt is equally important, for both officers and enlisted.

Photo: YouTube/West Point – The U.S. Military Academy

These West Point cadets are getting the training and skills they will need to lead and learn well as officers in the United States Army. We wish them all great success in their future as the U.S. Army’s leadership corps.

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