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Academy Superintendents Describe Priorities to Lawmakers

March 2, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The three Defense Department service academy leaders testified today at a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing on the state of their academies.

Cadets stand around a table.
Cadet Celebration
The Class of 2022 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., celebrates with 500 days left until graduation, Feb. 12, 2021.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Bryan Ilyankoff
VIRIN: 210212-N-WX378-718

Army Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, said the USMA's five strategic lines of effort are:

  • Developing leaders of character who are prepared to fight and win in combat.
  • Cultivating a culture of character growth necessary to build and sustain cohesive teams built on trust, dignity and respect. 
  • Building diverse and effective winning teams by leveraging the talent of every member of the organization.
  • Modernizing, sustaining and securing capabilities and infrastructure. 
  • Strengthening partnerships with academia, alumni, the American people and other national partners while continuing to contribute to the Army profession. 

Despite COVID-19, Williams said the USMA has successfully adapted to the challenges and continued its mission.

Williams also mentioned lines of effort in taking care of people. "We continue our efforts toward eliminating the corrosive behaviors that undermine trust, such as sexual assault and harassment, racism and extremism. We're making progress in this space, but recognize we still have a long way to go," he said.

Navy Vice Adm. Sean Buck, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, also noted that his academy has overcome challenges posed by COVID-19.

Midshipmen toss their hats in the air.
Cover Toss
Midshipmen toss their covers, which concludes the third swearing-in event for the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2020, May 16, 2020.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Levingston Lewis
VIRIN: 200516-N-BD308-1583

"Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Naval Academy has not lost focus on our long-term and ongoing priority of developing leaders of character. The racial justice movement in America that rose this past summer impacted many, many members of our Naval Academy community, and the associated events have provoked important conversations regarding diversity, equality and inclusion on our campus," he said.

"The Naval Academy must be a visible cornerstone of a value-based naval culture of dignity and mutual respect. And that includes improving sexual assault prevention efforts and continuing to strengthen support for victims. There continues work to be done at the Naval Academy so that we can attract, retain and develop a diverse cadre of future Navy and Marine Corps officers who are resilient, innovative and equipped to lead in a highly diverse, socially complex and multi-generational workforce," he added.

Men play basketball.
Academy Basketball
The U.S. Air Force Academy defeats Wyoming 72-69 at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 16, 2021.
Photo By: Trevor Cokley, Air Force
VIRIN: 210116-F-XS730-1008

Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy said his first priority is developing leaders of character. "Each element of our mission must remain aligned with the moral compass that character provides. Without a commitment to character, the leadership foundation we build will not be strong enough to support the weight of our goals and ambitions."

The second priority, he said, is defeating COVID-19. "I'm proud that our response to this crisis is utilizing the amazing brain power we have within our faculty, our staff and our cadets and trusting the science. Strict adherence to guidelines will be our continued approach."

The third priority, he said, is preparing leaders who will fight and win in future conflicts. "Our academy will do just that, developing innovative, creative and bold thinkers and leaders prepared to solve the unknown problems of tomorrow."

Football players play football.
Foggy Football
The U. S. Naval Academy Midshipmen face off against the U.S. Army Black Knights during the Army-Navy football game at the U.S. Military Academy’s Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., Dec. 12, 2020.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander C. Kubitza
VIRIN: 201212-N-PM193-1391

Fourth, he said, is fostering a culture of dignity and respect. "This will not only make our campus a better place to work, live and learn, but it also is a strategic imperative." 

He said the current class of cadets is the most diverse ever.

"They must enable and empower the diversity of thought that can be derived from this uniquely American strength. They must also be able to relate to and thrive in partnerships with other cultures and allied nations in increasingly collaborative combat operations," he mentioned.