West Point Chief Pushes Back On Criticism Amid ‘Commie Cadet’ Investigations

news

U.S. Military Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. has an important message for active-duty service members and veterans outraged over the viral photos of a communist West Point graduate that circulated in September: Yes, we’re taking this seriously.


In an Oct. 11 letter to the members of the USMA community, Caslen stated that 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone — the Afghanistan combat infantry veteran and West Point grad captured with a Che Guevara shirt under his dress uniform and a “Communism Will Win” sign under his cover — is currently subject to two ongoing investigations by both West Point and his commanders with the 10th Mountain Division for what Army Times characterized as “subversive political views.”

“It is my duty to thoroughly investigate concerns pertaining to the effectiveness of our systems and processes to maintain the outstanding quality of USMA graduates that the Nation expects,” Caslen wrote. “I am committed to fulfilling that duty to both our graduates and the American people. It is imperative that this be done right.”

Screenshot from Twitter

The photos sparked ire not just towards Rapone but West Point officials for allowing a candidate who openly expressed controversial political views to complete his course and take an Army commission. In 2015, Lt. Col. Robert Heffington, then a West Point instructor, allegedly reported Rapone to his chain of command for insubordination and for publishing statements on social media like “f*ck this country and its false freedom.”

“It is extremely concerning that someone who so often expressed such hostile views towards the United States’ system of government was able to obtain a commission,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, wrote in a furious letter to acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy on Oct. 4. “(His) revolutionary ideas were harbored long before he was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant. Were West Point administrators or faculty aware of his views and behavior?”

The latest broadside against West Point leadership came from Heffington himself, in an open letter to West Point grads published on. Oct. 20.

“I personally witnessed a series of fundamental changes at West Point that have eroded it to the point where I question whether the institution should even remain open,” Heffington wrote. “The recent coverage of 2LT Spenser Rapone — an avowed Communist and sworn enemy of the United States — dramatically highlighted this disturbing trend.”

“Every fall, the Superintendent addresses the staff and faculty and lies,” he added. “It is disheartening when the institution’s most senior leader openly lies to his own faculty — and they all know it. The cadet honor code has become a laughingstock.”

Screenshot from Twitter

Caslen’s response, published one day after Heffington’s letter, reaffirmed West Point’s commitment to upholding its standards of duty, honor, country. But Caslen also called out Heffington specifically for “calling [Academy leadership] liars.”

“I do not take these allegations lightly and will provide you a response with facts addressing his allegations,” Caslen wrote. “Then you can judge for yourself whether our graduates are serving our Nation with the character imbued with the values of Duty, Honor and Country, or not. “

In the meantime, Caslen begged outraged service members and veterans to keep West Point’s legacy in mind, despite their concerns over the Rapone saga and their desire to air their dirty laundry, as Heffington did.

“I ask that you help me prevent the negativity associated with the alleged behavior of one graduate from causing us to lose sight of the thousands of graduate who sacrifice and serve honorably every day,” he wrote.

You can read Caslen’s full letter below:

Superintendent's Letter to Graduates Regarding 2nd Lt. Rapone by Jared Keller on Scribd

Photo via Spenser Rapone/Twitter
Jeff Schogol

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.

Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.

Read More Show Less

U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.

The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.

Read More Show Less
(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.

If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

Read More Show Less

There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.

For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.

Read More Show Less
(Facebook photo)

The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less