Looking at Military Colleges

Periodically, I get emailed by folks looking to sell something. I don’t think Conrad Yu has anything for sale in this guest post he sent me; I do think, however, the site has some good info:

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If you have a patriot in the family aspiring to become an officer in the military, then you know they deserve to attend the best armed forces academy they can. Yes, West Point is famous and legendary, and everyone knows about it.  But what do people really know about how to get in? It’s easy to forget that the application process for military colleges undergo share similar aspects to applying for regular universities.

Take a look at naval academies like the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.  It has a 7% acceptance rate (that’s only 1% more inclusive than Harvard), and has an average SAT math score of 650 and an average SAT reading score of 620.  It’s important to know these if you want that acceptance letter in the mail.

There you go, gouge on getting into a military school.

Me and a Pakistani Captain Chat

Pakistan. Are they our friends? Do we have the same goals in mind? Can we partner together? Can we trust them? Are they doing enough to combat their jihadi issue? An interesting write-up in Marine Times touches these questions: 

The wind was howling and the snow outside their bullet-pocked bunker lay knee-deep as the men of the 20th Lancer armored regiment bedded down for the night, nearly 8,000 feet up a mountain on one of the world’s most inhospitable borders.

They cheered themselves up by singing songs. Their commander gazed at photos of his 4-year-old daughter on his computer. But as the men chatted, it became clear that they were feeling a bit underappreciated.

Why did the West accuse Pakistan of not pulling its weight in the war on terror, they asked. Hadn’t large numbers of their comrades died at the hands of Islamist militants? Why else were they in this hellish place if not to keep them at bay?

Pakistani Army soldiers with the 20th Lancers Armored Regiment gather before a patrol atop the 8000-foot mountain near their outpost, Kalpani Base, in Pakistan’s Dir province on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

“They say we aren’t doing enough,” said their commander, Capt. Imran Tanvir. “What more can we do?”

Well Capt. Tanvir, let’s chat about Abbottabad, Osama bin Laden’s little summertime retreat. How unlikely is it that no one was aware of Osama in a town that is home to a major military academy, Pakistan’s Westpoint:

Pakistan Military Academy in Abbotswood

The Pakistan Military Academy (also known as PMA or PMA Kakul) is a two-year federal service military academy. It is located at Kakul near Abbottabad in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

The Pakistan Military Academy is similar in function to Sandhurst, Saint-Cyr, and West Point, and provides training to the officers of Pakistan Army. The academy has three training battalions, and 12 companies. Another 2,000 guests each year, from over 34 countries, receive some training at PMA.

Or that, before his little Abbottbad retreat, Osama lived in a house near Islamabad:

But eight years later a shocking question is emerging: Could Osama bin Laden have lived in the four-bedroom house in Haripur, a bustling town just over 20 miles north of the capital Islamabad.

Shall I continue, Captain? Shall we talk ISI? Pakistan’s “premier” intel agency:

Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (Urdu: بین الخدماتی مخابرات; more commonly known as Inter-Services Intelligence or simply by its initials ISI), is premier intelligence agency of the State of Pakistan, operationally responsible for providing critical national security and intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan.

LGen Zaheer ul Islam will take charge of next DG ISI on 19th March 2012, currently he is corps commander Karachi.

This little ISI tidbit leaps out at me. Read it and then ask me whose side Pakistanis are on:

Five Pakistanis who worked as informant for CIA to pass information leading to the Death of Osama bin Laden had been arrested by the ISI. In particular the US is trying to seek the release of Dr Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani who worked for the CIA, passing intelligence leading to the death of Bin Laden.

ADM Mike Mullen and RADM Scott Van Buskirk, commander of CSG 9, talk with Pakistani Army Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of army staff, and Pakistani Army Major Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, ISI director general, aboard USS Abraham Lincoln.

In a semi-related note, during my travels through the Middle East, I came across a sign over a trash-can that inspired me. It read: Trash Bin. How easy would it have been to add a  Laden to the ending?

Trash Bin Laden?

But I did not. Deface the sign. I don’t practice graffiti. Nor break laws, foreign or domestic. And I am too young to die in a Turkish jail. (Nevermind that I was not in Turkey.) And I don’t like international incidents. And and and. . .

Old Soldiers Never Die

I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams.

The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that “old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.

Good Bye. –General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, speech to Congress, 1951.

Brigadier General Courtney Whitney; General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command, and Major General Edward Almond (at right, pointing), Commanding General, X Corps in Korea, USS Mount McKinley

The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday.

I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.

But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country. Today marks my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps.

I bid you farewell. –General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, speech to West Point, 1962.

The Citadel Military College and the Latest Allegations

Not this Charleston

It was spring and I was attending a symposium in Charleston, South Carolina.

Late in the afternoon, a recently-retired Army Colonel leaned across the table and asked me: Ensign, are you going to PT this afternoon? 

Yes, Sir. I was planning on heading to the gym.

Let’s go on a run.

Yes, Sir.

Not this one either

I met him later in front of his hotel. Those were the days before I fell victim to this monster called blogging and I was still putting in a fair amount of mileage.

He was in shape, after retiring out of West Point as a professor. And we pushed it out along the lower inlet of the Charleston Bay as close to the water as the sidewalk, and then the trail, would let us. Our goal: the Citadel.

The Colonel chatted on about the Army. His duty stations. I was not sure he was ready to admit he was retired. I always looked at the Army as for folks who liked to camp. And I was not much of a camper. But I listened carefully.

We ran through some park just south of the Citadel and the wind was cold, knifing off the water. It caught my breath just right and in breathing out, I suddenly felt blood trickling out my nose. It was a nasty feeling, this. Oddly, blood drips real quick and heavy. Faster than mucus. Ask anyone who gets nosebleeds. They, we know the second it starts to dribble.

The Citadel Military College

I tried to act normal, but the Colonel noticed. The Citadel was looming and we were running in the side gate to campus. My sweatshirt was streaked angry with blood. The guard gave us a strange look. I don’t think he stood there to restrict access, just as a guide to direct people.

By this time, my hands were red and my face looked like I lost a fight to a blind guy with a baseball bat. With good hearing. And a grudge.

We had better turn back, the Colonel said, hardly ten feet inside the gate. We spun around and hoofed it back to town. I apologized to the man and he waved it off. The next day, I did a quick drive around the Citadel.

I had known a couple of Citadel naval officers and I wanted to see their stomping grounds. Also, The Lords of Discipline had instilled in me a morbid curiosity of where Pat Conroy had come up.

The Lords of Discipline, by Pat Conroy

Have you heard of the latest allegation concerning sexual molestations, this time against a man affiliated with the Citadel, a counselor at the military school’s camp?

After the issues at Penn State, Happy Valley, and Joe Paterno’s staff, I hoped the Citadel would not be as deep. The facts:

In the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, another university, The Citadel military college in South Carolina, revealed on Saturday that it had investigated accusations against a camp counselor but took no action.

The man has since been jailed on separate charges of molesting five boys in Mount Pleasant, near Charleston, South Carolina.

“We regret that we did not pursue this matter further,” Citadel President Lt. General John Rosa and Board of Visitors Chair Doug Snyder said in a statement.

Penn State, not Happy Valley

The solution to this issue is to be proactive. Vow to be the truth-teller. We can’t allow this to happen in our communities and schools. Personally, I commit always be a whistle-blower no matter how unfavorable to my career or place in society. Even if I get death threats:

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Nov. 10 (UPI) — Penn State officials said Thursday assistant football Coach Mike McQueary would not attend Saturday’s game against Nebraska because of death threats.

McQueary has told a grand jury that as a 28-year-old graduate assistant coach in 2002 he witnessed former assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in a shower at the school.

That revelation was the first step leading to Sandusky being indicted on 40 counts of sexual crimes.

Coach Joe Paterno was fired Wednesday in the wake of that scandal, as was school president Graham Spanier.

I love college football and have most of my life. And I worry that we have lost sight of our most important asset, our children. And they were sacrificed in the name of continued victory on the football field.

I heard on the radio that Joe Paterno had earned Penn State upwards of a billion dollars in his tenure at the university. Yes, he has coached for 44+ years (62 years on staff) and has 409 victories over his career. Which is amazing. But this is a black mark against him and his staff. Are those wins worth the pain inflicted on the abused children? I like Joe Pa and appreciate that he said this:

Joe Paterno, Penn State Head Coach, Fired

“The kids who were victims or whatever they want to say, I think we all ought to say a prayer for them.

It’s a tough life when people do certain things to you.”

Should the NCAA shut down the Penn State program for a year? I don’t know. What I do know: this will not happen on my watch. . .