The 'Warrior Caste' and nepotism
With Army recruitment numbers in the dumps and promoting a woke agenda that is driving many traditionalist young men and women away from service, leave it to the secretary of the Army, Christine Wormuth, to close another door to recruiters — that of the traditional military family, or as she calls it, the "warrior caste."
Not long ago, the antics of Colonel Pup Ravage and Captain Honshu would have resulted in a charge of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer. Now such fetishism gets honored every June during DoD's Pride Month. We are still waiting for the results of the Army's investigation launched into the pup kink episode.
However, there is a reform that needs to be made, and that is ending "legacy" promotions to general and "legacy" appointments to the military academy. If recollection serves, a copy of the Army Officer's Guide stated that approximately 3% of an Army year group (those army officers commissioned that year) make it to the general officer ranks.
Aspiring candidates for an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were asked during the application process if they had a family member who graduated from a service academy and if they had a family member who was a colonel or higher in rank. How are those questions remotely pertinent for appointment to a service academy? A clue is in the Genealogical Succession Table in the bicentennial edition of the Register of Graduates and Former Cadets of the United States Military Academy, New York, 2002. The value of a West Point education is $250,000. There are families that have been educated on the taxpayers' largesse for generations. This needs to stop. End the legacy appointments — selections should be based solely on merit and the needs of the Army.
Generals beget generals. Is generalship now a hereditary trait? General (4-star) George S. Patton's son made it to Lieutenant General (3-star). The three sons of General Patton's most famous tank battalion commander, General Creighton Abrams, hit the jackpot: each made it to the general officer ranks: Brigadier General Creighton W. Abrams III; General John N. Abrams; and General Robert B. Abrams. The Army's first female four-star general, General Ann E. Dunwoody, billed as the daughter of a "career army officer," was in fact, the daughter of third-generation West Point graduate Brigadier General Harold H. Dunwoody. General Melvin Zais's son is Brigadier General Mitchell Zais. General Paul E. Funk II is the son of Lieutenant General Paul E. Funk and son-in-law of Lieutenant General John J. Yeosock. Major General Leo A. Brooks, Sr. has two sons who reached the stars: General Vincent K. Brooks and Brigadier General Leo A. Brooks, Jr.
An old Washington Post article provides a glimpse of how the scions of generals work their way up the military career ladder. Ostensibly about how female officers are not getting picked for a top job of being a military aide, it goes on to state that being a military aide is a strong predictor of success and how the experience and networking gained are invaluable. Note that two of the officers mentioned are the son and daughter of general officers. Captain Kathryn A. Burba, military aide to then–secretary of the Army Togo D. West, is the daughter of General Edwin H. Burba, Jr. General Burba is himself the son of Major General Edwin H. Burba. Then–Army chief of staff General Dennis J. Reimer picked Major Timothy Vuono, the son of former Army chief of staff General Carl Vuono, to be his aide-de-camp. Both Captain Burba and Major Vuono were already exposed to the life and connections of their general-officer fathers. Perhaps a young unconnected officer from the inner city or rural America would gain more from such a prestigious assignment.
In one of the only two infantry battalions on Fort Benning that were not training units, the battalion commander's daughter was married to the son of a four-star general, the headquarters company commander was the son-in-law of a lieutenant general, the B company commander was the nephew of the major general (2-star) post commander, the C company commander was the post commander's ex-aide-de-camp, the following C company commander was the son of a major general, and each of the three line companies had a major general's son as a platoon leader. The odds of having nearly 20% of a single battalion's officers as general officer relations are astronomical. Somebody had to have been manipulating the assignment process.
I would urge Secretary Wormuth to purge nepotism and favoritism from the Army, but leave the warrior caste intact. Merit and needs of the Army are the objectives, not diversity quotas or legacies.
Cincinnatus, a retired Army officer, is a third-generation infantryman, whose daughter is a serving surface warfare officer in the Navy.