I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the timely, focused, and significant article by Brig. Gen. Shane Reeves, “Educating future US Army officers to fight and win. We must remain committed to the concept of the informed soldier, a trait that is made possible by our dedication to the individual freedom that our country offers. Reeves’ commentary brings this concept into sharp focus at both the strategic and the tactical levels.
I would like to offer to Army Times readers an amplification of the article’s message. In the statement, “West Point cannot, and will not, fail in its mission to educate and train thinking officers,” the author focuses on two significant components of the academy’s focus. An amplified perspective refers to all three focus components of the current United States Military Academy mission: " … to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets …”
The concept of inspiration as an additional mission imperative was addressed by Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland, the current U.S. Military Academy at West Point superintendent in the Fall 2022 issue of West Point Magazine. He wrote, “…the ‘inspire’ aspect of our mission statement is critically important. While education and training prepare us to serve, inspiration helps define why we serve, underpinned by our values, ideals, and shared commitment to support and defend the Constitution.”
In truth, West Point had been inspiring its cadets and graduates many years before the mission was expanded to include the concept. I have experienced this inspiration at several different levels. For example, while a cadet, I was tremendously inspired by the 1962 farewell address of General Douglas MacArthur, an event that was commemorated this past April in a special ceremony. This inspiration also carried over into my time of military service as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army.
In my later years, other aspects of West Point have provided the inspiration for significant milestones. For example, I was inspired by the musical heritage of West Point to develop an Army-oriented hymn, “Ever Faithful to the Call,” which is being promoted for use with Veterans Day and other military observances.
I hope these thoughts will give Army Times readers a fuller understanding of the inspired preparation of future Army officers developed at the United States Military Academy. I have full confidence that the educated, trained, and inspired military leaders produced by West Point going forward will be capable of the highest levels of leadership. This assurance gives me hope for the future, regardless of the challenges that must be met.
*Editor’s Note: Tom Lough is a graduate of the West Point Class of 1964