Gen. Mark Milley sends West Point graduates off to a world where war is changing

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WEST POINT - General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told West Point's graduating class on Saturday that wars they fight might bear little resemblance to today's because of technological advances.

But Milley told the 1,014 cadets who were about to become second lieutenants in the Army that their mission remains the same: defending the U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.

Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley enters Michie Stadium for the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in Highland Falls on Saturday.
Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley enters Michie Stadium for the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in Highland Falls on Saturday.

"This is what you are committing to today," Milley said. "You never turn your back on the Constitution...And you are going to lead our nation's most precious resource, the other young men and women who are serving."

Milley is the nation's highest-ranking military officer and the principal military advisor to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin - who was last year's West Point commencement speaker - and the National Security Council.

Before Milley began the serious part of his address, he asked the cadets before him to stand and face their parents, siblings and other family members in the stands at Michie Stadium.

Cadets take part in the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in Highland Falls on Saturday.
Cadets take part in the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in Highland Falls on Saturday.

"Give a big round of applause to your families, because they are the reason you are here right now," Milley said.

Milley painted a bleak picture of the world in which the new second lieutenants will begin their military careers, one where there is "potential for great conflicts."

"You are entering a difficult world," Milley said.

Russian aggression in Europe, the economic and military rise of China and others all pose challenges to the United States, which once was a largely unchallenged superpower, Milley said.

And technology is changing that landscape in many ways, he noted.

"No matter where you are in the world, you can be observed by some device," Milley said. "And if you can be seen, you can be hit."

Milley said future wars could involve more urban fighting, like what has been taking place in Ukraine since Russia invaded, and less rural combat.

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But Lt. General Darryl Williams, West Point's superintendent, told the cadets they are up to the task.

Cadets take the oath of office during the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.
Cadets take the oath of office during the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.

"The 47 months you have been here have been challenging and tough," Williams said. "But you are now prepared to support and defend the Constitution, and to fight and win our nation's wars. You are ready to lead. You are ready to fight. You are ready to win."

Saturday's graduation also saw the return of a tradition at West Point graduations that was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic: the participation of children in the hat-toss that ends the ceremony.

Graduating cadets toss their covers in the air at the end of the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Saturday.
Graduating cadets toss their covers in the air at the end of the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Saturday.

At the call of "class dismissed," the now-second lieutenants jubilantly tossed their covers in the air.

Then, from the north end of the stadium, a crowd of kids raced in, scrambling to grab one of the souvenirs. Each is allowed to keep one hat.

The West Point class of 2022 included 13 international cadets - two each from Poland, Thailand and Tunisia, and one each from Albania, Bhutan, Cambodia, Romania, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

They will return to their home countries and serve their time in military service there.

Cadets take part in the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in Highland Falls, N.Y. on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
Cadets take part in the 2022 graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in Highland Falls, N.Y. on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

Nineteen of the graduates came from the mid- and lower Hudson Valley region: Daniel Alaimo of West Nyack, James Bellucci of Pawling, Jacob Burgess of Cornwall-on-Hudson, Noah Daigle of Warwick, Nolan Green of Fort Montgomery, Brandon Hernandez of New City, Matthew Jabloner of Chappaqua, Michael Jones of Middletown, Eric Kulkarini of Wappingers Falls, Nicholas Mackey of Marlboro, Oscar Pereira of Hastings-on-Hudson, Caroline Raymond of Mahopac, Emma San Martin of Ossining, Timothy Stewart Jr. of Maybrook, and Joseph Dawson, Alexander Evangelista, Heather Graham, Kimberly Kean and Josiah Spain, all of West Point.

Mike Randall covers breaking news for the Times Herald-Record, the Poughkeepsie Journal and the Journal News/lohud. Reach him at mrandall@th-record.com  or on Twitter @MikeRandall845

This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: West Point graduates 1,014 new second lieutenants, 19 from region