Editor’s Note: This piece was written by SOFREP reader John Miller, USMA ’20. It is presented here unedited. Miller is currently on active duty, and the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect the position of the United States Military Academy, US Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government. They are solely the opinions of the author in a personal and unofficial capacity, acting as a private citizen. We thank him for his contribution


Response to “Does the Officer Selection Process for Naval Special Warfare Leave a Lot of Talent on the Beach?” by Cole Black, 18MAR2023.

It is a common refrain across the combined force that academy graduates have the creativity stamped out of them during the course of their four (and occasionally five) years of study. There is a belief that somewhere in the melee of the summer trainings they attend or the uniforms they wear to class, their creativity and imagination is drilled out of them by granite mess halls and endless pass-and-reviews. It is assumed that the cadets and midshipmen you see walking up and down the central quads on Saturdays in their dress uniforms are coerced into their endless march because they painted a piece of art that was too vibrant or imagined a scene too fanciful for a creative writing assignment. Are we to believe that all the academies are capable of graduating are soulless robots? Or is the truth, as it always is, a little more complicated?

One of my classmates had more varieties of tea in her room at any given time than I thought existed. Another restored old Volkswagens and Toyotas on his free time. It seemed like almost every room you walked into had a guitar or keyboard in it, and you would often hear cadets practicing on the weekends. I had classmates from Egypt, Germany, and Mongolia. Many spent semesters in Tajikistan or Spain, and traveled on cultural immersions to Korea, Africa, and all across Europe. Countless clubs met after class to watch foreign films in the languages they were studying, and there was a yearly art show where poetry, paintings, and photos taken by cadets were displayed and celebrated.