West Point Graduates Are What Is Inherent In U.S. Military
by Terri Moon Cronk, DOD News
May 29, 2022
The 2022 graduates of the U.S. Military
Academy are the United States' most valuable asset; its most
significant asymmetric advantage and they represent what is inherent
in the U.S. military, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman, Joint
Chiefs of Staff, told the class at the academy in West Point, New
U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman, Joint Chiefs of
Staff, enters Michie Stadium through a cordon of cadets
before his speech at their 2022 graduation and commissioning
ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY on
May 21, 2022. More than 1,000 members of the class received
their diplomas and were commissioned to the rank of second
lieutenant. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Military Academy)
As keynote speaker at the graduation
ceremony today, the chairman told the graduates they are critical to
"[You] have become a team," he said. "And
you're going to be drawing upon each other for the rest of your
Milley told the graduates, who were commissioned as
second lieutenants, they represent the quality that gives America
its unique strength. "You are what makes the United States undaunted
by the difficult, and motivated by the impossible," he said.
It was at the end of World War II that leaders designed the U.S.
military's rules-based international order, and that structure is
today under intense stress, the chairman said. "It will be your
generation that will carry the burden and shoulder the
responsibility to maintain peace, to contain and to prevent the
outbreak of great-power war," he said.
At this very moment,
a fundamental change is happening in the very character of war, he
said. "We are facing, right now, two global powers: China and
Russia, each with significant military capabilities, and both fully
intend to change the current rules-based order."
And in Ukraine, we are learning the lesson
that "aggression left unanswered only emboldens the aggressor,"
Milley said. "Let us never forget the massacre that we have just
witnessed in Bucha. Know the slaughter that occurred in Mariupol.
And the best way to honor their sacrifice is to support their fight
for freedom and to stand against tyranny."
As the United
States is entering a world that's becoming more unstable, the world
the graduates are being commissioned into has the potential for
significant international conflict between great powers, he told
"And that potential is increasing, not decreasing," he
added. "We are also on the cusp of a change in the fundamental
character of war. The nature of war is not going to change. It's
still a political act. It's a decision by humans to impose their
political will on their opponent by the use of violence."
But the character of war, how wars are fought, where wars are fought
and with what weapons, technologies, organizations and doctrines —
in short, the ways and means of war — is undergoing a fundamental,
profound and significant change, the chairman emphasized.
"You're entering a different world," he said. "The United States is
under significant challenges in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and
Europe. We see revanchist Russia, as we have just witnessed another
invasion in Ukraine. In Asia, we are in the third decade of the
largest global economic shift in 500 years, resulting in a rapidly
rising China as a great power with a revisionist foreign policy
backed up with an increasing capable military."
Also, in Asia, the United States is
faced with North Korea, which is rapidly increasing its missiles and
deliverable nuclear weapons, he said, adding in the Middle East and
in parts of Africa, we continue to see instability from terrorism in
"[The] maturity of various technologies that
either exist today or are in the advanced stages of development,
when combined, are likely to change the character of war just by
themselves," Milley noted.
"You'll be fighting with robotic
tanks, ships and airplanes," he said. "We've witnessed a revolution
in lethality and precision munitions. What was once the exclusive
province of the U.S. military is now available to most nation states
with the money and will to acquire them."
There's a wide
variety of technologies developing, synthetic fuels, 3D
manufacturing, medicine, human engineering and enhancement of which
will have significant military implications as well, he said.
"And finally, there is the mother of all technologies —
artificial intelligence — where machines are actually developing the
capacity to learn and to reason," the chairman said. "These rapidly
converging developments in time and space are resulting in that
profound change — the most profound change ever in human history.
And whatever overmatch we, the United States, enjoy militarily … the
United States is challenged in every domain of warfare: space,
cyber, maritime, air and land."
In the future, the chairman
said, we can, through rigorous analysis, determine what the world
will look like. There will be a lot of surprises along the way in
development of forces and weapons, but the structure and
organization of our joint forces is going to have to change
drastically, he said. All of us must be open-minded. We can no
longer cling to concepts and organizations and the weapons of the
past, he added.
"In your world, you're going to have to
optimize yourselves for urban combat, not rural combat," Milley
said. "That has huge implications for intelligence collection,
vehicles, weapons design, development, logistics, camo and all of
the other aspects of our progression."
The U.S. military
must change its methods of thinking, training and fighting, he
added. Joint warfighting concepts under development will help guide
the military as a roadmap to the future, he said, adding the
military must chart that course very quickly.
And we must
develop leaders who have incredible character under the intense
pressure of ground combat, and there is nothing greater than ground
combat leaders who will make the right moral and ethical choices,
along with the right tactical choice in the most emotionally charged
environment you will ever face, he told the graduates, adding, "Each
of you are those leaders".
Members of the U.S. Military Academy Class of 2022 enter
Michie Stadium at their graduation and commissioning
ceremony at West Point, NY on May 21, 2022. (Photo
courtesy of U.S. Military Academy)
The accumulating challenges the United
States faces, and the changing character of war is unlike anything
the nation has faced before, Milley emphasized.
there's an increase in nationalism and authoritarian governments,
regional arms races and unresolved territorial claims, ethnic and
sectarian disputes and an attempt by some countries to return to an
18th-century concept of balance of power politics with spheres of
influence," he said.
"As you march into your future, have
the vision to change and to prevent war from happening in the first
place," he said. By maintaining peace through the strength of the
U.S. military, and the example of our values, it is up to you,
today," he added.
"We are proud of you. You have a difficult
and dangerous road ahead, and no one should underestimate it," the
chairman said. "But you also have the opportunity to navigate those
dangerous roads ahead and to lead our nation's most precious
resource: the young men and women who don the cloth of this nation,
the American soldier."
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