By John Hughes, MD, USMA ’96
Union Generals McClellan, Burnside, Pope, and Rosecrans were relieved of command in the Civil War for failure to perform.
In World War Two, at least 5 US Corps commanders and 16 Division commanders were fired.
The US won both wars when its military found the best leaders to wage the wars. Incidentally, if anyone has forgotten, the new woke military is 0-1 in battle (Afghanistan/Kabul disaster).
The glorious recent history of cocaine, scandal and poor leadership at West Point:
2013 – Superintendent LTG David Huntoon retires prematurely amidst accusations of ethical misconduct.
2016 – Chris Monge is imprisoned for cocaine dealing as a West Point cadet, 5 others are investigated.
2017 – Superintendent LTG Robert Caslen lets known communist Spencer Rapone graduate.
2018 – Fort Drum officers do the right thing and eliminate Rapone from the Army.
2020 – (May) 72 West Point cadets caught cheating (worst honor code scandal since 1976).
2021 – (May) BG Mark Quander becomes West Point’s 79th Commandant.
2021 – (LTG) Robert Caslen is accused of plagiarism and resigns as President of U of South Carolina.
2022 – 5 West Point cadets purchase cocaine and overdose on cocaine and fentanyl on spring break.
2022 – Media reports cocaine culture existed at West Point since at least 2016, was not new to 2022.
2022 – Judicial Watch successfully sues West Point to release CRT curriculum being taught.
2023 – West Point refuses to fully answer FOIA requests for the outcome of 2022 cocaine scandal.
2023 – Fox News reports yet more CRT/pronoun training going on at West Point.
2023 – (today) BG Mark Quander is still West Point’s commandant…
Items in bold occurred on BG Quander’s watch.
BG Mark Quander (West Point class of 1995), hails from a long line of Army officers and by all accounts had a successful career as an engineer officer in the Army.
He had the misfortune of becoming Commandant when West Point was roiled in years of cocaine use and honor scandals.
Clearly West Point had a command climate tolerating and/or enabling serious discipline issues incompatible with service as cadets at West Point and moreover as officers in the Army.
Newly arrived leaders at all levels and branches of services are expected to analyze a unit’s status (training, morale, discipline, equipment, etc) and use their leader skills to quickly and decisively find solutions to them.
While Quander was not at West Point for the 2016 honor scandal, Supe scandal, and initial cocaine ring (2016), it was intuitively obvious when he arrived in 2021 that West Point had serious problems needing solutions.
New officers should be afforded a reasonable time to address issues and show success by ensuring a future devoid of scandal. 10 months into his tenure, yet another national cocaine scandal erupts.
One year into his tenure, it takes a federal judge to make Quander and other West Point leaders hand over FOIA information on CRT (units are legally required to answer FOIA). 10 months was more than enough time to root out drug offenders and ensure cadets knew that such behavior would not be tolerated. Outward appearances indicate Quander did nothing since assuming his position.
Perhaps his premeditated focus was on deepening CRT’s hooks into West Point. In a February 2021 NPR interview, the only issue he discussed concerning his new job as Commandant was white extremism.
“It’s hard and it’s also very challenging,” Quander tells Michel Martin on All Things Considered about confronting extremism. “Because I think if it was easy, we would have fixed it a long time ago. But I do think that everyone is committed to addressing it.”1
The military likes to promote DEI by stating that it is working in the corporate world, so therefore it must work for the Army.
Incidentally, it is not working in the corporate world. Disney recently had to fire their CEO for being too woke as ratings and subscriptions plummeted.
The global banking crisis that caused the DOW to plunge over 500 points this week was in large part caused by Credit Suisse, another outspoken woke corporation.
Though West Point denies focusing on CRT, DEI and CRT fingerprints are all over its website and curriculum. Fox News just exposed yet more pronoun training sessions at West Point.
Perhaps his focus has been on DEI/CRT at the expense of all else.
Perhaps he was a good field grade officer but is just not capable of performing as a general officer.
Perhaps, dare we say it, he is shielded because of his race (non-white) in the new military hyper fixated on social justice at any cost.
Whatever the cause of his continued presence as Commandant, continued scandals at USMA show he is unfit for office.
Will higher leaders finally do the right thing to fix the discipline and leadership climate at West Point? LTG Gilland? GEN Milley?
A commander (and commandant) is responsible for all that their unit accomplishes or fails to accomplish. This can sometimes be unfair as relief for cause can sometimes be arbitrary from superiors and ‘unfair’ if a leader’s career is ruined due to feckless actions of subordinates.
Life can be unfair. The stakes are too high in the Department of Defense, especially now as careless statesmanship at home and abroad seem to be propelling the US towards a continental war in Europe.
While seemingly popular with his classmates on Twitter, popularity amongst peers is not criteria for success and therefore retention. BG Quander should have been fired a year ago immediately after the 2022 cocaine scandal broke. His continued presence as commandant makes a mockery of West Point’s hallowed Worth’s Battalion Orders:
“But an officer on duty knows no one — to be partial is to dishonor both himself and the object of his ill-advised favor. What will be thought of him who exacts of his friends that which disgraces him? Look at him who winks at and overlooks offenses in one, which he causes to be punished in another, and contrast him with the inflexible soldier who does his duty faithfully, notwithstanding it occasionally wars with his private feelings. The conduct of one will be venerated and emulated, the other detested as a satire upon soldiership and honor. —Brevet Major William Jenkins Worth
Worse, it is teaching future officers that is it ok for senior leaders to look the other way when egregious actions are committed and are further shielded from responsibility when doing so.
To paraphrase rapper Eminem: ‘Will the real leadership at West Point please stand up.’ Graduates are watching. Active duty officers are watching. Most importantly, West Point cadets are watching.