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Tucson Opinion: Time for military academies to update honor code
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Tucson Opinion: Time for military academies to update honor code

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The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

I was and am disgusted that military academy graduates were involved in the treason at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that killed five Americans. Not only has an Air Force Academy graduate, Lt. Col. (retired) Larry Rendall Brock Jr. been identified and charged as an active participant, but two West Point graduates in Congress helped incite the riot.

West Point graduates Reps. Dr. Mark Green (class of 1986) and Warren Davidson (class of 1995) fanned the flames of the mob. Even after the rioters ransacked the Capitol and they personally saw their terrified colleagues sheltering in place, anticipating imminent fatal bodily harm, they still voted to not certify the Electoral College votes.

Their actions have sullied the reputation of our academy. They incited fellow citizens to be violent toward one another and to violate the very institutions of our democracy. They are not leaders of character. I thought about why these West Point graduates could possibly believe this is honorable behavior. I wanted to know when and where these attitudes could have been cultivated. There is nothing honorable about inciting a riot and abusing your power via a dishonest effort to manipulate an election.

As a 1994 West Point graduate and Army veteran, I swore an oath to defend our U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Green and Davidson took the same oath and lived under the same West Point Cadet Honor Code. While we attended at different times, we shared the same 47-month experience intended to inculcate the Army Values and embed the motto “Duty, Honor, Country” in our souls.

I believe the current codified West Point Cadet Honor Code and System are weak and do not properly prepare cadets for honorable leadership. The prohibition of abuse is not a daily consideration. These representatives, whether they understood it or not, were condoning and encouraging both physical abuse and abuse of power.

This major shortcoming in the Honor Code and System can be corrected. Based on historical responses to Honor Code violation scandals in 1951 and 1976, the secretary of the Army can appoint a special commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the West Point Cadet Honor Code and System.

The current West Point Cadet Honor Code states, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”

I propose modifying the Honor Code to say, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, abuse, or tolerate those who do.”

The hallmark of the Cadet Honor Code along with the Cadet Honor System is that the Corps of Cadets owns it. The Honor Code is the essence, the bedrock of character development and moral/ethical daily living. Unfortunately, the Honor Code in its current codified form does not reflect what is fully expected of United States Military Academy graduates. There have been too many abject failures by cadets and graduates recently, such as the findings in the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee Report, the firing or suspension of 14 Fort Hood senior leaders, the recent USMA cheating scandal and now this coup to destroy our democracy, to maintain the status quo. The time is now to develop fresh ideas to eradicate every form of systemic abuse.

The American people should and must demand accountability for those leaders who dishonor democracy through abuses of power and dishonorable living. The secretary of the Army needs to appoint a special commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the West Point Cadet Honor Code and System. The American people must have the trust and confidence that U.S. lawmakers and academy graduates will exemplify and set the highest societal standards of honorable living for a lifetime.

Dana Allmond is an Army veteran, 1994 West Point graduate, and retired lieutenant colonel with over 23 years of active duty service.

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