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U.S. Inside/Background

West Point - About the Academy

Since its founding over two centuries ago, the Military Academy has accomplished its mission by developing cadets in four critical areas: intellectual, physical, military, and moral-ethical - a four-year process called the "West Point Experience." Specific developmental goals are addressed through several fully coordinated and integrated programs.

A challenging Academic Program that offers 44 majors provides a balanced education in the arts and sciences. All cadets receive a Bachelor of Science degree, which is designed specifically to meet the intellectual requirements of a commissioned officer in today's Army.

The Physical Program at West Point includes both physical education classes and competitive athletics. Every cadet participates in an intercollegiate, club or intramural level sport each semester. This rigorous physical program contributes to the mental and physical fitness that is required for service as an officer in the Army.

Cadets learn basic military skills, including leadership, through a demanding Military Program which begins on their first day at West Point . Most military training takes place during the summer, with new cadets undergoing Cadet Basic Training - or Beast Barracks - the first year, followed by Cadet Field Training at nearby Camp Buckner the second year. Cadets spend their third and fourth summers serving in active Army units around the world; attending advanced training courses such as airborne, air assault or northern warfare; or training the first and second year cadets as members of the leadership cadre. Military training is combined with military science instruction to provide a solid military foundation for officership.

Moral-ethical development occurs throughout the formal programs as well as a host of activities and experiences available at the Military Academy . These include formal instruction in the important values of the military profession, voluntary religious programs, interaction with staff and faculty role models, and a vigorous guest speaker program. The foundation of the ethical code at West Point is found in the Academy's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country." Cadets also develop ethically by adhering to the Cadet Honor Code, which states "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

Admission is open to all young men and women, and is extremely competitive. Candidates must receive a nomination from a member of Congress or from the Department of the Army. They are then evaluated on their academic, physical and leadership potential. Those candidates who are fully qualified receive appointments to the Academy.

The life of a cadet is demanding, but leisure time does permit recreational activities such as golf, skiing, sailing, and ice-skating. Intramural clubs include a cadet radio station, orienteering, rock climbing, and Big Brothers-Big Sisters. A wide variety of religious activities are available to cadets from virtually all religious backgrounds.

From the day of its founding on March 16, 1802 , West Point has grown in its size and stature, but it remains committed to the task of producing commissioned leaders of character for America 's Army. Today, the Academy graduates more than 900 new officers annually, which represents approximately 25 percent of the new lieutenants required by the Army each year. The student body, or Corps of Cadets, numbers 4,000, of whom approximately 15 percent are women.

A favorite expression at West Point is that "much-of the history we teach was made by people we taught." Great leaders such as Grant and Lee, Pershing and MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton, Westmoreland and Schwarzkopf are among the more than 60,000 graduates of the Military Academy . Countless others have served society in the fields of medicine, law, business, politics, and science following their careers in uniform.

Ever mindful of its rich heritage, West Point continues to prepare its graduates to serve as commissioned leaders of character in America 's 21st Century Army. 2002 marked the bicentennial of this American "national treasure." Guided by its timeless motto, “Duty, Honor, Country,” the Military Academy is poised confidently to provide the Army and the Nation with its third century of service.

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Source: Courtesy of United States Military Academy;
Last modified: 20071204
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