West Point’s class of 2022 tossed their caps in the air as they celebrated their commencement and commissioning ceremony Saturday.
More than 1,000 enthusiastic cadets took part in the traditional throw to mark the end of their four years at America’s most prestigious military academy, which is located in Upstate New York.
During the graduation ceremony, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, challenged cadets to prepare to fight future wars that may look little like the wars of today.
‘The world you are being commissioned into has the potential for significant international conflict between great powers. And that potential is increasing, not decreasing,’ Milley told the cadets.
Cadets graduated in glorious sunshine as the north east basked in one of the hottest May days on record, and the good weather seemed to further boost the atmosphere among the already excited graduates.
They were filmed lined up in neat rows in immaculate uniforms during the ceremony and speech, but were also filmed embracing one another with afffectionate huge.
The cadets successfully completed the New York academy’s courses and were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the Army.
Following their graduation, the cadets will be trained on planning, training and Army operations during the Basic Officer Leader Course.
They then will have to choose among more than 36 branch-specific majors before being sent to an occupational Army unit for three years.
Approximately 1,000 enthusiastic cadets tossed their hats in the air to mark the end of their four years at the West Point US Military Academy
Class of 2022 cadets celebrate their graduation during commencement ceremonies at the US Military Academy West Point, on May 21
They were first trained on planning, training and Army operations during the Basic Officer Leader Cours
Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered the graduation address to the 1014 cadets of the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2022
Milley painted a grim picture of a world that is becoming more unstable, with great powers intent on changing the global order.
He told graduating cadets at West Point that they will bear the responsibility to make sure America is ready.
‘Whatever overmatch we, the United States, enjoyed militarily for the last 70 years is closing quickly, and the United States will be, in fact, we already are challenged in every domain of warfare, space, cyber, maritime, air, and of course land,’ Milley said.
America, he said, is no longer the unchallenged global power.
Instead, it is being tested in Europe by Russian aggression in Ukraine, in Asia by China’s dramatic economic and military growth as well as North Korea´s nuclear and missile threats, and in the Middle East and Africa by instability from terrorists.
Milley painted a grim picture of a world that is becoming more unstable, with great powers intent on changing the global order
Graduating cadets at West Point that they will bear the responsibility to make sure America is ready, Milley said
Drawing a parallel with what military officials are seeing in Russia’s war on Ukraine, Milley said future warfare will be highly complex, with elusive enemies and urban warfare that requires long-range precision weapons, and new advanced technologies
Drawing a parallel with what military officials are seeing in Russia’s war on Ukraine, Milley said future warfare will be highly complex, with elusive enemies and urban warfare that requires long-range precision weapons, and new advanced technologies.
The US has already been rushing new, high-tech drones and other weapons to the Ukrainian military – in some cases equipment that was just in the early prototype phases.
Weapons such as the shoulder-launched kamikaze Switchblade drones are being used against the Russians, even as they are still evolving.
And as the war in Ukraine has shifted – from Russia’s unsuccessful battle to take Kyiv to a gritty urban battle for towns in the eastern Donbas region – so has the need for different types of weapons.
Early weeks focused on long-range precision weapons such as Stinger and Javelin missiles, but now the emphasis is on artillery, and increased shipments of howitzers.
United States Military Academy graduating cadets attend their graduation ceremony
ieutenant General and Superintendent Darryl A. Williams speaks during the 2022 West Point Commencement Ceremony
Graduating cadets hug each other during their commencement ceremony
Life at West Point
West Point has more than 200 years of history and is America’s most prestigious military academy.
In order to be admitted to the academy, applicants must be no older than 23, be a US citizen, not be married or have children and must have excellent grades and leadership.
After graduating, cadets will attend a Basic Officer Leader Course where they will study general Army operations, planning, and training.
They will then choose to study branch-specific material and join an unit for three years.
Cadets must serve at least eight years in a combination of Active Duty and Reserve Component Service.
Source: West Point website
And over the next 25 to 30 years, the fundamental character of war and its weapons will continue to change.
The US military, Milley said, can’t cling to concepts and weapons of old, but must urgently modernize and develop the force and equipment that can deter or, if needed, win in a global conflict.
And the graduating officers, he said, will have to change the way US forces think, train and fight.
As the Army’s leaders of tomorrow, Milley said, the newly minted Second Lieutenants will be fighting with robotic tanks, ships and airplanes, and relying on artificial intelligence, synthetic fuels, 3-D manufacturing and human engineering.
‘It will be your generation that will carry the burden and shoulder the responsibility to maintain the peace, to contain and to prevent the outbreak of great power war,’ he said.
In stark terms, Milley described what failing to prevent wars between great powers looks like.
‘Consider for a moment that 26,000 – 26,000 – soldiers and Marines were killed in only six weeks from October to November of 1918 in the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne in World War I,’ Milley said.
‘Consider also that 26,000 U.S. troops were killed in the eight weeks in the summer of 1944 from the beaches of Normandy to the liberation of Paris.’
The graduating officers, Milley said, will have to change the way US forces think, train and figh
Excited recent graduates at West Point congratulate each other
Recalling the 58,000 Americans killed in just the summer of 1944 as World War II raged, he added, ‘That is the human cost of great-power war. The butcher’s bill.’
Thinking back to his own graduation, Milley paraphrased a popular Bob Dylan song from the time: ‘we can feel the light breeze in the air. And right now as we sit here on the plain at West Point, we can see the storm flags fluttering in the wind. We can hear in the distance the loud clap of thunder. The hard rain is about to fall.’