Ban Officer Inbreeding

Nepotism is a much bigger problem in the armed forces than most realize. Officially it does not exists, yet everyone knows that a lieutenant whose dad is a general is far more likely to receive better evaluations and assignments. This is related to another hidden problem - intellectual inbreeding. An officer whose father and sometimes grandfathers were military officers know little about American society, especially if they attended a service academy. There are third, fourth, and even fifth generation academy graduates whose perspectives on the world are sharply different than the average American. Many use their web of family connections to rise to the rank of general, even though their intellect is lacking due to a lack of worldly experiences.

I encountered this as a new lieutenant when we were asked for our top three preferences for career specialties. We were also told to list any relatives who were Flag officers, Congressmen, or high-level government officials along with their titles. Many lieutenants were angered by this obvious political gaming after months leadership training that emphasized ethics. At the time, General Edward Meyer was Army Chief of Staff. Whenever I met a senior officer, many asked if I was related. If I had lied and said he was my uncle, I suspect my career track may have been better.

This is a difficult issue to correct, but Congress could pass a law banning the children of service academy graduates from attending the same academy. This is needed to reduced nepotism and ensure fairness in the selection process. They can attend a different service academy, or obtain a ROTC scholarship, or attend OCS after graduating from any college. This simple change would cause great outrage among the "good ole boy" insiders who quietly control the military services. They would be furious that their children are not allowed to compete, but everyone knows that children of academy grads have a far greater chance at acceptance. Proof of this exists with the multi-generational strings of academy selections.

It is better for the nation if children of academy graduates attend different colleges to expand their horizon. This will provide more opportunities for non-militarized Americans to attend these academies. It will also weaken the academy grad "ring knockers" who manipulate assignment and promotion boards for the benefit of their extended families. Even retired Generals have a huge web of contacts who trade favors. This causes headaches for the staff at the academies since second, third, and fourth generation cadets are difficult to expel or flunk. Even John McCain admits that he would have been expelled from the Naval Academy if his Dad weren't an Admiral at the time. This also eliminates the problem of disgruntled cadets whose father pressured them to attend the academy.

Generals and Admirals claim this is not a problem. However, someone who spent the first 18 years of their life on Army bases needs to get off the reservation and mix with the rest of America at a college outside the Army, and one different from which his father attended. If any Congressmen inserts a provision in a defense bill to prohibit service academies from accepting children of past graduates, all hell will break loose. The military dynasties will rise up to preserve nepotistic power, and expose the need to address this problem.

                                            Carlton Meyer