Monday, May 28, 2007

Perspective: Iraq Presents Graduating Class at West Point With New Challenges

The graduating cadets of the United States Military Academy spent their final days here like scores of seniors, or firsties, before them: packing foot lockers and showing their mothers around gray buildings and sweeping lawns. All smiles. Even the lone cadet marching in full uniform in a parking lot under the hot sun — a form of punishment called “walking the area” — flashed a grin when a friend passed.

Lt. Col. David A. Jones was one of the graduates 22 years ago, in the class of 1985. Now 43 and a staff officer who works in the academy’s leadership and ethics programs, he was smiling upstairs in his office, but his words betrayed his worry for the young men and women who will, in all likelihood, be leading other soldiers in Iraq next year.

“We can’t provide them with all the solutions and all the answers,” he said. “This is too complex.”

The war in Iraq has hovered over the class of 2007, perhaps more than any class before. The 1,000-plus cadets who will graduate on Saturday were the first to enter West Point after the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Read the rest at the NY Times