We’ve been quite busy and other things have taken priority on posting. However, there have been a few events worth noting:
New Data Request
We filed another FOIA request last year with the West Point office. It included requests for meaningful data for applicants and classes of 2020-2026, including, among some other helpful information, demographic, WCS, academic/military/physical performance, and separations data by candidate. It was rejected as follows:
The denial because “data does not exist in the requested form” is quibbling. Clearly USMA has by-candidate, by-cadet records of test scores, WCS, demographics, performance, etc. Databases being what they are, there may be some table joins required. But we’d take raw data, too – just send us all the tables on a drive or large file transfer, and we’ll do the rest.
The NCES site contains only aggregate data and not the by-candidate WCS data required to understand what USMA is doing.
We haven’t responded and re-requested yet. In the meantime, we want to point out, to the USMA folks reading, that this is not a commercial venture. It is a personal part-time effort to contribute something to improving our off-azimuth military, and we have realized exactly zero dollars from it. If we considered it as a business venture, it would be horribly money-losing between hosting and the total lack of merch sales (that is a joke, for the lawyer team). Any WordPress ads have been removed to avoid any confusion on the matter.
In any case, we are not surprised with the rejection because of other items that were happening in parallel.
USMAData In The News
The Supreme Court ruling in Students for Fair Admission v Harvard is linked [here ]. A summary is here. We are not lawyers and can’t speak to the significance of all the points in the ruling. Here are several other interesting documents.
First, the United States filed an amicus brief in support of Harvard, with a group of former General Officers and others contributing (link) and a group of veterans (“Veterans for Fairness and Merit”) filed an amicus in support of SFFA (link ) with follow-up comments after the ruling:
Importantly, however, the Court’s decision implicitly rejects DoD’s claim that the use of racial preferences at colleges having ROTC programs (the largest source of commissioned officers) would be a “compelling interest” that could excuse enforcement of the Constitution, McQuarrie said. “Moreover, the Court did not articulate any rationale for why its reasoning does not apply to the service academies. It simply did not decide whether DoD’s claim of a ‘compelling interest’ at the service academies (which, if proved, might excuse noncompliance) had been proved.”
McQuarrie added, “As VFM’s amicus brief explained in detail, the time has come for our service academies to change their admissions practices to eliminate all consideration of race and to treat all applicants using a single standard based on objective, race-blind, exclusively merit-based evaluation of all fully qualified applicants.”
“Compromise of selection standards by use of ‘diversity goals,’ whereby race (which has no correlation to leadership ability) dilutes merit, is an unacceptable failure of our collective moral obligation to always provide warfighters with the best-qualified leaders.”
“DoD first made its assertion of a ‘national security imperative’ in 2003, seeking judicial cover for its discriminatory practices, which in recent years have become pervasive. Its claim is unproven, untrue and contrary to generations of recent history,” McQuarrie said.
“As VFM’s brief showed, DoD’s use of racial preferences is hurting our military, profoundly threatening our readiness. Until DoD abandons its harmful practices and returns to race-blind, equal opportunity, and exclusively merit-based personnel management, our national security will continue to suffer,” he added.
“Rather than forcing warfighters to ask courts to examine whether DoD can prove its specious claim, DoD should take its cue from this decision and do what other institutions will now be required to do: follow the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” McQuarrie said.
The Veterans for Fairness and Merit (VFM) amicus included references to our post “On Diversity As Strength“. We’re glad this was useful information. We also want to point out that we’ve done other analysis on the applicant pool vis-a-vis admitted classes, pointed out the class composition goals references, and other work on the site.
Other observers worth reading include CDR Salamander in the pre-ruling period with his post “Diversity Thursday” from late 2022 . (As an aside- CDR Salamander on substack, and formerly at Blogspot, is a great read for military events, even if he uses such Naval terms as “shipmate” and “midrats”. Subscribe to support!)
Heritage, among others, published a Daily Signal article with reference to the “On Diversity As Strength” post.
Ruling and the Academies Reactions
When the ruling came out, watchers interested in the what the ruling would mean to military academies were put off, at least for time being, by this footnote on p 22:
However, the implications of the ruling are clear: The question of whether military academies can continue to arbitrarily discriminate is still open.
In the age of the “woke military,” the service academies have energetically acted on the court’s ruling in Grutter. For example, analysis of West Point’s own data suggests the presence of clear diversity “goals” and highlights the double standards the academy employs to achieve them.
Those filing “friends of the court” briefs in Grutter and SFA v. UNC argued that the military academies needed to consider race in the admissions process. In so arguing, they explicitly or implicitly relied on the racial tensions in the military during the Vietnam War.
They made the claim that race-conscious admission policies in service academies and ROTC programs are a national-security imperative, essential to achieving racial diversity in the officer corps to prevent disobedience and unrest between officers and enlisted soldiers.
Former national security adviser and military historian Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster effectively summarized the arguments when he articulated how leaders must not allow “reified postmodernist theories to erode the sacred trust between warriors or diminish the meritocracy and objective realities that are essential to preserving the warrior ethos as the foundation of combat effectiveness.”
As The Heritage Foundation has documented at great length, those “postmodernist theories” are pervasive in today’s military, largely driven by political forces from the top.
Had one of the service academies been a party in SFA v. UNC, the court would have had an opportunity to begin the process of removing this corrosive influence and reinstate merit as one of our military’s fundamental tenets.
By an ironic twist, the court’s ruling last week means that race-based discrimination policies have been overruled everywhere except at the nation’s finest institutions of higher education. The task now falls to future litigation to make a case directly against military academies like West Point and root out discrimination entirely.
Then again, to CDR Salamander on the congressional hearings that the ruling spurred:
The great beauty here is that we can see a few things;
- Your diversity nomenklatura can only prepare you so much with pre-planned responses, word games, and talk-arounds. The follow-on questions, backed up by knowledge, will get you to expose yourself. Eventually, you run out of spin and – in an attempt to regain some self-respect, you will finally 87% admit what is the truth. You’ll see that in the start of the final clip.
- As a GOFO, you live in a rather well protected intellectual environment. You are rarely challenged in the open and are not used to people not accepting your answer. You are used to polite deference given to you by people you consider less intelligent than yourself. Things have changed, especially in this topic area. Congress is full of very sharp people who are used to swimming through other people’s lies and hedging. This skill, always there, is now combined with the fact that what little positional capital the American military’s General and Flag Officers once had is almost gone. Two decades of happy talk and consuming personal and institutional capital in a willing effort to join in domestic politics, consumed the remainder of what two decades of poor imperial policing in Central and Southwest Asia already thinned. General Milley and Admiral Gilday willing politicization of themselves and their institutions ensured that in 2023 not only is the deference gone, no one trusts they are being told the truth.
He then posts links to videos of the congressional examination of the Superintendents (General Officers, GOs) of the academies. The GOs clearly don’t want to address the questions (“we’re still looking into it” = I don’t want to incriminate myself)
First they continue to find some way to deny in a very sealawyery way that race is taken in to consideration, which it is, and then after thinking they were successful, all of a sudden can’t offer an opinion if given the latest SCOTUS ruling applied to them, if there would be any impact.
Our immediate reaction was that John T Reed’s framework for GO selection is still completely valid, and we should apply it here and examine incentives.
We ask: Why are these GOs so unwilling to embrace merit? Do they truly believe in the victory-bringing quality of diversity, as unsubstantiated as it is? Or are they reacting to the incentives of their positions and pleasing their next higher-ups, as has been their success path for the last 30 years?
The quote runs “Science advances one (scientist’s) funeral at a time.” Unfortunately, seeing leadership like this implies that there is a corollary in national defense.
As always, factual corrections and criticism are welcome.