Applications this year for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point class of 2007 have arrived at a record pace, Brig. Gen. Daniel J. Kaufman, dean of the academic board, said during a taping of The Editors TV show.
West Point - home to the academy since 1802 - has 1,200 vacancies each year for incoming cadets; 12,500 applied, he said. The goal of the academy is intellectual preparation for leadership.
“We're in the education business,” he said. “We are a four-year undergraduate baccalaureate-degree-granting institution. We are not a military training institution per se. What we want to do is develop the ability for our graduates to anticipate and respond to a changing world.
“They're going to be leading the Army and the nation 10, 20, 30 years from now in situations we can't imagine sitting here.”
He was questioned by Thomas Walton, vice president-editor of The Blade.
The Editors will be broadcast at 9 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.
General Kaufman offered a vigorous endorsement of the all-volunteer military.
“The leadership of American forces has got to be representative of the society which we defend,” he said. “That means we want the very best youngsters that we can to prepare themselves for careers as commissioned officers in all the military services, not just in the Army. So all the service academies really perform a vital function for this society - that is to connect its society to its military services.”
The 9/11 attacks forced cadets to change the way they think about their duty.
“They're focused,” General Kaufman said. “They understand now the responsibilities of officership, and they're preparing themselves for service in combat if necessary.”