Keith Boyea's Blog

Notes & Commentary on National Security, Current Affairs and Bourbon

A Few Thoughts on the Air Force Academy

The Air Force Academy is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. The Colorado Spring Gazette reports that cadet athletes have committed sexual assaults, cheated on tests, and generally behaved like cavemen. This isn’t the first sexual assault scandal in recent memory–in 2003 approximately 50 women came forward with allegations of sexual assault.

Being that the Air Force Academy is my alma mater, I thought I’d provide some honest suggestions to improve the Academy.

1.) Cleanse the Culture

I did not show up at the Academy a misogynistic prick. I learned it there. My attitudes towards women while I was at the Academy were loathsome, and my attitudes were squarely in tune with the general attitude of male cadets. It certainly doesn’t sound like attitudes have improved over the last 12 years.

I believe there is a culture of misogyny at the AFA. It is passed down to freshmen cadets by the upperclassmen, who learned it from the upperclassmen when they were freshmen. It is, quite clearly, difficult to break that cycle. Therefore, I would proposed that the class that entered basic training in June (the class of 2018) be the last class of cadets to enter the Academy until the summer of 2018. This year there would be four classes, next year there would be three and so on. Eventually the class of 2018 will be at the Academy alone.

When the class of 2022 enters in the summer of 2018, the Academy administration can go about creating a new culture–one that respects women, encourages trust among cadets, and one that is basically the opposite of the culture they have now. That culture can then be passed down to future classes.

2.) Eliminate Division 1 Athletics

The incentives for NCAA division 1 athletics are antithetical to the Academy’s mission. Winning above all else, TV contracts, donor money, and affiliation with the NCAA all create a culture that contribues to the general cultural problem. Football players (like me) put football first; ahead of academics, military commitments annd everything else. It divides the cadet wing into athletes vs. non-athletes. The incentives for coaches is to recruit marginal Academy cadets who are uncommonly good at sports. (Again, just like me.) It’s unhealthy and unnecessary.

Replace division 1 athletics with either division 3 or a revitalized intramural program. Whatever lessons that can be learned from the “fields of friendly strife” can be learned without the NCAA.

3.) Reduce the Cadet Population by Approximately Half

There are far too many cadets that do not plan on making the Air Force a career. (Like me, again.) There’s no sense in spending so much time and energy on a future “leader” who never plans to lead in the military. I don’t have access to separation statistics, but the percentage of Academy grads that separate after meeting the minimum obligation don’t need to be trained by the Academy in the first place.

The idea is that you want to recruit people who really buy-in to what the Air Force is selling. It wasn’t for me and it isn’t for a lot of people. Cut people like me out of the picture and you’ll have a lot more buy-in to the Air Force and Air Force Academy party line.

(This isn’t to say that sexual assaults are occurring because of five and divers, it is a general suggestion meant to improve the Academy.)

4.) Get Rid of Management as a Major (and maybe even lose academic accreditation)

There’s no reason any cadet should major in management (like I did). During my stint, management was the largest major! (600 cadets out of 4,000) I think there is value in the humanities, but management is such a bullshit major that it ought not exist. Cadets major in management because they can’t cut it in the other majors or they want the easiest possible academic track. (Once again, that was me.)

More controversially, I’d argue that the academy should drop its academic accreditation. Stick with the argument for a moment: What is the purpose of the Air Force Academy? In my opinion, it is to prepare people to fight and win wars. Therefore, that’s what the education should focus on. Nearly every cadet should be what used to be called a “Military Arts and Sciences” major. (I may allow for a percentage of engineering and sciences majors.)  The education shouldn’t be like the one you get at the University of Texas. It might not even be broadly useful outside the military. Fine. Perfect even. We are preparing officers, not businessmen.

5.) Actually Prepare Cadets for the Air Force

A sad and stupid fact of the Air Force Academy is that once you graduate, you still don’t know how to do your Air Force job. You are as well prepared to do your job as any ROTC or OTS grad; which is to say not really at all.

Cadets find out their Air Force Specialty during the first semester of their senior year. There’s no reason they don’t spend the entire second semester training to do the job they are going to do in the Air Force. If you are a pilot, you begin Undergraduate Pilot Training. If you are a contracting specialist like me, you go to an operational contracting squadron and begin to learn the ropes. Same goes for personnel, maintenance, acquisitions, and on and on. There are at least 4 Air Force bases in the Colorado Springs area so it isn’t even that hard to find places to put the cadets.

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Written by keithboyea

August 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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