Fowler's response is titled, Military Academies: A National Treasure. Read both then come back, then I'll add some of my observations.
An emotional write-up - but in places is a bit boilerplate with a lot of platitudes and parochialism - but not a lot of facts.
I have observed countless military academy graduates over my career and can say without the slightest hesitation that these graduates make significant contributions to the well-being of our forces and demonstrate their value to our national defense on a daily basis. As the superintendent of the Naval Academy for the past three years, I have been honored to guide the development process of thousands of midshipmen and can state with confidence that we provide the Navy and Marine Corps with superb young officers who prove their mettle every day in the mountains and villages of Afghanistan, and on, above and below the world’s sea lanes.Substitute "military academy graduates" with NROTC or OCS and you will get the same answer. Slightly insulting and strange, all at the same time.
Then there is this disconnect,
Those who enter the military via ROTC or OCS bring their own unique perspectives and experiences, but have not had the same intense exposure to the daily routine of military life.First of all - life at Annapolis is nothing like the Navy as it is lived 27/7/365. Never in my career did anyone state, "That Ensign is performing so well because he is obviously from Annapolis and understands the military." A Chief sure never said that.
The cost associated with educating a Naval Academy midshipman is also far less than stated in the May 21st op-ed. When a midshipman fails to complete the academy program and is charged for their four-year education, that bill comes to $170,000, a figure established by the Department of the Navy. The costs associated with educating an academy student are in fact comparable to or less than the total realized costs of educating an ROTC student at select private or other state-funded universities. At the Naval Academy we take seriously our obligation to the American taxpayers to achieve the maximum return on their investment.This could use some REAL solid numbers to back up that statement. "Select private" is the key here I think. Cherry picking is not attractive in a Flag Officer. Weak argument. -1.
In response to the op-ed author’s concern about athletic excellence, I must stress that the academies graduate physically fit leaders, not merely scholars. All academy students are student-athletes who strive for physical development via daily fitness routines and either mandatory intramurals, club sports or varsity athletics. While it may be popular to diminish the value of athletic competition at the intercollegiate level, the military academies represent some of the best examples of student-athletes who compete at the highest levels. This commitment to excellence on the field complements the classroom, where the Naval Academy continually ranks number one or two in the nation for student-athlete graduation rates.Athletics have nothing to do with physical fitness. Also, the issue isn't athletics. The issue is the compromises made with the Devil to play D1 football. That is the issue. Walk around NAPS and you will see it clear as day.
I must emphasize that we admit only highly motivated, well-rounded individuals based upon their combined excellence in academics, athletics, leadership potential and community service. Applicants compete in a single, fair, structured and highly selective process. Simply stated, the Naval Academy’s admissions processes are in accordance with applicable federal laws and based on an individual’s performance and potential for future success as a naval officer.Depending on how you move those mushy definitions around, all that is true - but it has nothing to do with the price of tea in China and is contrary with the hard numbers in USNA's own briefs that we have covered here in the past. Click the USNA tab and you can find them too.
The ultimate measure of the academies’ value, however, is the performance of our graduates. Across the board, the feedback we receive is that recent academy graduates are performing superbly, and our Navy and Marine Corps are well served by these leaders. The senior enlisted and officer leaders of our Navy and Marine Corps are telling us that when our graduates report to their units, these young men and women are ready. And those units and our graduates in recent months have been called upon to provide disaster assistance in Haiti, conduct anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and engage in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is no room for mediocrity in these operational theaters and our graduates are proving they are up for the challenge.Again, fried air. Substitute NROTC and OCS and it is also true. In any event - it isn't the average USNA graduate that is the issue sir - those men and women that I meet are the solution, not the problem; the issue has to do with those things you hide most from; Diversity compromises like the Color Guard fiasco; last year a pregnant midshipman allowed to graduate, apparently from White House influence; this year's slot back pot smoking; and from what I hear from the yard - an inconsistent record of dealing with honor offenses and plagiarism that would not survive the light of day.
VADM Fowler's final paragraph,
The one point upon which I do agree with the op-ed author is that the academies must always remain vigilant to maintain the level of excellence demanded by our citizens and continually assess and monitor our progress. I believe we are maintaining the highest standards, preparing our young men and women for the complex and volatile world they will face and graduating extraordinary leaders to serve our Navy, Marine Corps and nation. As we march forward, we march only in one direction and that is the direction of selfless service and professional excellence.No one doubts that at the core that is what you are trying to do. The job of a Superintendent is a very tough job. Sometimes there are only bad decisions to choose from. Everyone knows that. What breaks out the very good leaders though is self-reflection. VADM Fowler had a chance to reflect on where things did not go well, but instead we are given a "all is well, just move on, nothing to see here." Sad. There are a lot of people who care a lot for USNA and want to see things fixed. We won't get there without honest reflection.
Anyway, let me lob one hedgehog down the bubble trail.
Just to go back to his comments about athletics (though not mentioned, it is a defense of the real issue, D1 football) and what it produces. Ideally I would like to see him talk about why football players take NAPS slots that fleet Sailors should have - but instead, perhaps a discussion on how we got here and here.
A lieutenant expelled from the Marine Corps’ The Basic School in May for cheating on a land navigation exercise is fighting back, saying his punishment was too harsh.That is sad in a variety of ways. I don't know what character flaw disturbs me the most. The open cheating - or his decision not to stand up like a man and take his punishment without making excuses or acting like some stool pigeon. Is that what he brought away from 4-years in Annapolis? A side issue is how someone can come out as a Marine Officer from the United States Naval Academy in four years and NEED to cheat on land navigation. I guess he/USNA had other priorities.
Former 2nd Lt. Adam Ballard, a star fullback at the Naval Academy who now is pursuing a career in the National Football League, was administratively discharged from the Corps on May 20, but says his punishment is unfair because cheating on land navigation at TBS is a wide-spread problem.
Football player Mario Washington has been dismissed from the Naval Academy, reportedly as the result of an honor offense.Coach - the fact you see that as your biggest concern speaks volumes. Pathetic.
Commander Joe Carpenter, a Naval Academy spokesman, confirmed that Washington was separated in late May. Carpenter is not allowed to disclose the reason for the separation due to privacy rules.
Several sources told The Capital that Washington was dismissed after being found guilty of a violation of the academy honor concept. Carpenter could only confirm that "a Midshipman was charged with an honor offense, had a hearing before the Naval Academy superintendent and was separated."
Washington played in all 26 of Navy's game over the past two seasons as both a wide receiver and a punt returner. The 6-foot, 193-pounder totaled 12 receptions for 221 yards during his career.
Washington, a product of Crest High in Boiling Springs, N.C., would have been a senior in 2010. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo said the football program would miss the outgoing youngster who always seemed to have a smile on his face.
"Obviously we are disappointed because Mario was a big part of our team, a big part of our football family. He brought a lot of joy and energy to the locker room," Niumatalolo said. "Our biggest concern right now is that Mario finds a new school and graduate."
I would bet a retirement check that a player by player review of this season's recruiting class would not leave anyone here impressed.