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International - World power USA and the cadets from West Point

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Terrorism poses new challenges for the US military. Cadets are trained at the prestigious West Point Military Academy. How do you make them fit for the future? USA correspondent Beat Soltermann had the rare opportunity to ask around at West Point.

Classes begin at the United States Military Academy (USMA). The eight students in the classroom stand to greet their teacher, Rajaa Chouairi. A lesson on Arabic culture is due. And all in Arabic.

The USMA, also just called West Point (New York State), is the cadre forge of the US Army. Around 25 percent of the next generation of officers are trained here. West Point was founded in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson. Much has changed in the world since then, but also how the cadets are prepared for their military careers.

The students at the military academy discuss freedom of expression in the Middle East with the teacher. Cadet Alex is also involved. He chose Arabic because he values ​​life and hospitality in the Middle East.

Training focus on the Middle East

During a semester abroad Alex visited Oman, Egypt and Morocco like some of his comrades. It is important to be able to talk to the local people in an emergency. And the Middle East is a strategically important region for the USA. It is quite possible that he will be sent there as a lieutenant after graduating. That is why the military academy has expanded the Arabic program in recent years.

In addition to intellectual skills, students must meet high fitness standards and attend compulsory sports courses. Swimming lessons are also part of it. Today the cadets have to jump into the pool in full gear - uniform and boots.

Swimming instructor John McVan emphasizes that this exercise is not a chicane, but an important part of training; "The cadets should learn to react correctly to the unexpected." Nobody can predict that he or she will later have to jump into the water with clothes on. "But the exercise helps to overcome the fear of such a situation," says the swim instructor.

West Point has high demands

Athletic fitness and top intellectual performance are very important at West Point. Only those who have achieved excellence in high school and have a recommendation from a congressman or from the President of the United States in person will be admitted.

The cadets go through a four-year training course and receive a bachelor's degree - free of charge. In return, they have to commit themselves to the military for five years. But not as «cannon fodder». Because cadets from West Point are intended for officer posts or for even higher offices.

This is also evident in Major Caleb Philipps' lessons. He teaches war strategy. A subject that has become significantly more complex since the end of the Cold War. «We used to have precise templates. If the Russians behave like this, then we'll do it, all options were considered, everything was clear. Today we have complex starting points. Holistic solutions are required, which we then submit to the President, ”says Philipps.

The new threat terrorism

No more clear opponents and no more classic battles, not even necessarily states that are at war with the USA, but terrorists, that is, asymmetrical threats, as Major Philipps calls them. A challenge for the members of the US Army, but also for the trainers at the Military Academy in West Point.

That is why skills and knowledge are important that are helpful in different situations, emphasizes the strategy expert: “The cadets must be able to solve all kinds of problems. West Point teaches them the basic techniques they need to do it. "

In strategy class, the cadets stand in front of flip charts and analyze the rise of the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS). Then it is analyzed in the class network. Why is IS so successful? And how can it be combated?

"Not every problem can be solved militarily"

Cadet Matthew explains: “We're looking at what the military can do to solve a problem like IS. But also what can be achieved by other means, such as diplomacy. Not every problem can be solved militarily. "

And not every president uses the military immediately. President Barak Obama was rather reluctant. President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump may be less. No problem for Matthew: “That's just the way it is. Our job is to make the best recommendations, on the basis of which the Commander in Chief decides. "

Even if the decision ignores the recommendations from West Point, the US Army will carry out the orders given by the President. And that can also mean being sent abroad or even to a war zone.

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  • Comment from Sebastian Frey (Sebastian Frey)
    And in the near future there will be similar subliminally glorifying reports from the cadre forges in China, Russia, ...? - "But not as« cannon fodder »" Yes, you have green card holders, mercenaries and increasingly "rebels" in the respective country. "Then an analysis is carried out in the class. Why is IS so successful?" Wasn't there someone who invaded Iraq in 2003 and destroyed all statehood?
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Robert Meier (R. Meier)
    American military propaganda? So please, SRF, what's the point? Please stop that. This is not good for our society.
    Agree agree to the comment

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