The following post was penned by an anonymous cadet at the United States Military Academy and represents an individual viewpoint on an increasingly complex and volatile situation. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of West Point, the United States Army, or the Department of Defense.

You’ve undoubtedly heard much about “The Point” in the media recently, with much of that news negative. First, the world was introduced to a former cadet, Spencer Rapone, whose images and anti-American rantings on social media ignited a firestorm of controversy. In short order, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Heffington, a former history instructor at West Point, released a sworn statement documenting a bitter encounter with Rapone from 2015. …

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I’m a guy who loves a good, well-deserved punch. I grew up knowing that, from time-to-time, I would have to be able to stand my ground and defend my values and beliefs. I never shied away from a fight, even when the odds were stacked against me. I never started a fight, never threw the first punch, but also never backed down. I was stubborn, I was young, and I had a temper. Not a good combination. …

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It was a conversation that’s been played over and over again. A child, embarrassed and humiliated, confessing to friends about a disturbing revelation from a family member. My cousin, who in his late 40s confessed to being homosexual, endured a similar fate. Family members who, despite well-paying jobs, couldn’t keep themselves out of bankruptcy court, faced the walk of shame. Friends who stumbled morally or ethically at some point in their careers eventually had to admit their failures. It happens. It’s part of life.

This morning, I overheard the familiar conversation from a group of undergraduate students just down the hall from my office door. The words were the same, the reactions similar to those I’d heard before. It could have been a revelation about a relative who identified as a transgender woman. It could have been a conversation about a close friend who admitted to committing a heinous crime. …


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The following post was penned by a U.S. Army soldier, who also happens to be a woman and represents a racial minority in the armed forces. Her previous post, The Irony: An Unequal Application of Gender Equality, remains the most widely-read post on The Pendulum and continues to draw comments from readers. The views of the author are her own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Army.


Diversity, equality, and inclusion have once again fought their way to the forefront of issues in the U.S. Army as societal change has paved the way for subsequent policy change. Research and countless studies have acknowledged that there is value in organizational diversity — it can become a competitive advantage by increasing creativity, innovation, organizational flexibility, and problem-solving capabilities.[1] It’s simple: People with different backgrounds offer different ways of looking at problems, leadership, and the world. The Army has made several policy adjustments in an effort to promote diversity and inclusiveness. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed in 2010, and homosexual Soldiers can now openly serve. The Combat Exclusion Rule was lifted, and females can now serve in all Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs). And in the past year, the Army granted long-term religious accommodations to Sikh Soldiers to allow for turbans and beards. …

Getting Beyond the Push-Up Challenge

by Tim Stolinski

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Cartoon by Paul Combs, 2016 (Tribune Content Agency)

Today, I learned of another soldier whom I served with has passed on to Fiddler’s Green by his own hand. Sean Long was still a kid when I last saw him, barely able to grow a mustache. He was a 14S in 3rd PLT, E/1–43 ADA at Camp Casey, in the Republic of Korea. I was the platoon leader for 4th platoon. While I knew Long and saw him every day, we weren’t buddies. That’s just part of the job. My platoon and Sean’s platoon often trained together though, as they would both get attached to the same MLRS battalion. I can remember checking on him while making rounds to all the Avenger positions during one particularly sloppy training exercise. His whole platoon was more or less stuck in place, so I was running hot chow to them while my crews were on higher ground and able to rotate back in. Sean was a good soldier in a place where good soldiers were hard to come by. He did his job well and kept out of trouble. …

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Notes from the Inbox

I used to think that my Outlook client was my worst enemy. From morning to late afternoon, I faced a relentless assault of email, most of which was the typical administrivia that clogs the Ethernet everyday. Email after email would hurl itself at me, picking up steam around 1700 and continuing unabated until sometime after the sun set over the hills. Hundreds of emails populated my inbox each day, and it was easy to lose focus on the deep fight while I wrestled the pig that lived in my Outlook inbox.

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And we all know what happens when you wrestle a pig. …

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A Simple Proposal for a Simple Solution to a Simple Problem

by Edward M. Van Court

The Army has been identified as the executive agent for the Department of Defense’s search for a new service pistol, designated the Modular Handgun System. The goal is to replace the aging M9 Beretta 9mm pistol, so the contract could be for up to a quarter of a million pistols. The goal is to acquire a pistol for all soldiers and all seasons. The ideal pistol would be multi-caliber and compatible with numerous accessories like suppressors, laser aiming devices, and lights. This pistol would be the single pistol issued to every service member assigned a pistol, whether Special Forces and SEALs, pilots, military police, vehicle crewmen, or — God help us all — staff officers. …

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The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Memorial Day

May 30, 2016

Always a hard day. Mixed feelings of what my service meant, its utility, and how to honor those who did not come back. Nobody I served with died, I didn’t even know many who were wounded — a privilege of being Air Defense Artillery I suppose. So when I see others who share pictures of a friend lost I wonder if I was really part of it all. I don’t envy them, but I can’t fully understand it, as if I missed part of a game by coming in late. …

Fear and Loathing in the Internet Age

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Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning

There’s a new sheriff in town. And his name is Eric Fanning.

From the moment he took the oath as the 22nd Secretary of the Army, people knew something was different about him. Despite the media’s bizarre obsession over his sexuality, that wasn’t it. Some speculated that it might have been his choice in designer silk neckties, but that wasn’t it. And it could have been his tumultuous confirmation process — Let’s hear a rousing “Bad Grandpa!” for Kansas Senator Pat Roberts — but that wasn’t it, either.

From the moment Secretary of Defense Ash Carter swore him into office, Eric Fanning owned social media. …

20 Questions with David Barno and Nora Bensahel

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The Dynamic Duo of Lt. Gen. (Retired) David Barno and Dr. Nora Bensahel

One is a proven wartime senior commander long known for keeping a thumb on the pulse of the shifting dynamics of conflict and its impact on national security. The other is a seasoned scholar and mind mentored under the guidance of some of the most experienced foreign policy leaders our country has produced. Together, they form a intellectual powerhouse poised to pack a policy punch not seen in the Beltway since the heyday of Woodward and Bernstein.

Retired Lt. Gen. David Barno is a product of West Point, a member of the Class of Generals, the 1976 class noted for producing at least 33 general officers from a group of 855 graduates. He parachuted into combat at night in Panama during Operation Just Cause, commanded Rangers at Fort Lewis and Paratroopers at Fort Bragg, and pinned his third star at the young age of 49, the first in his class to do so. And he commanded the war in Afghanistan during a particularly tumultuous period as Washington’s focus shifted away from that region toward the Arabian peninsula. When he finally threw his boots over the wire in 2006, he emerged as one of the most prolific voices on foreign policy and national security, a role ideally suited for the square-jawed warrior scholar from New York. …


The Pendulum

Original Thoughts and Writing from Doctrine Man!!

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