Esper visits West Point: Secretary of the Army Esper visits his alma mater

Story by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

February 15th, 2018 | News, News and Features
 Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, U.S. Military Academy Class of 1986, participated in an early morning physical training session Feb. 10 with his old Company, H-1. Later in the day, Esper spent time speaking with cadets, senior leaders and academic departments.
  Including learning about the partnerships and cyber research being done by the Army Cyber Institute. To end the day, he cheered on the Army West Point Women’s and Men’s Basketball teams against Navy. During the games, the cadets wore their It’s On Us T-shirts in support of the prevention of sexual assault and harassment.
Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, U.S. Military Academy Class of 1986, speaks to a cadet wearing an It’s on Us T-shirt as cadets wore the T-shirts in support of the prevention of sexual assault and harassment. During his visit Feb. 10, Esper spoke about the recent report on sexual harassment and assault reports nearly doubling at West Point. “Believe it or not, it’s a good news story,” Esper said. “It’s always good when we see reporting of sexual incidents. What that tells me is that our cadets are comfortable with reporting, they feel that the chain of command is listening to them, and that type of reporting enables us to either treat them as victims as they want and to prosecute the alleged assailant.”
Esper speaks to cadets during breakfast and then spends time attending a State of the Academy briefing with several USMA leaders.  Photos by Class of 2018 Cadet Alex Werden (above) and Michelle Eberhart/DPTMS

The honorable Mark T. Esper, 23rd secretary of the Army and U.S. Military Academy Class of 1986 graduate, visited West Point Feb. 10 to discuss some of his priorities for the future of the Army including West Point, modernization strategy, readiness, the  Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program before opening the floor to questions.
While here, Esper participated in a physical training session with cadets, engaged cadets at breakfast, attended a State of the Academy update briefing with Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr, attended the Women’s and Men’s Army-Navy Basketball games, and spoke with both teams courtside.
Esper said he has been going out to reacquaint himself with the Army and to gauge the readiness of the force and came to West Point to take a first assessment of where the academy is with regard to developing an important cohort of future leaders and described what he thought of USMA’s future Army leaders.
“Cadets are the future of our officer corps and they will be charged with leading our men and women into combat, into training with our allies and partners ensuring we maintain peacetime readiness,” Esper explained. “So, they are absolutely vital. They will be the future majors, colonels and generals who will lead our Army into the future. That is one of the reasons why I am here is to get a good sense of what the state of training is at the academy with regard to academic development, military development, character development and physical fitness. I am very pleased with what I have seen so far and happy with the path ahead.”
Esper spoke about the recent report on sexual harassment and assault reports nearly doubling at West Point.
“Believe it or not, it’s a good news story,” Esper said. “It’s always good when we see reporting of sexual incidents. What that tells me is that our cadets are comfortable with reporting, they feel that the chain of command is listening to them, and that type of reporting enables us to either treat them as victims as they want and to prosecute the alleged assailant.
“The reporting is good and I think the more reporting is better. I think it shows competence in the system and competence in the chain of command and I actually hope we see more reporting that will help us drive down the incidences as well,” he added.
Esper also talked about issues of modernization of the Army and what he would like to see prioritized going forward and this is based on studies and experience in what we have seen in the Ukraine and seeing what Russia and China are doing.
“There are six readiness priorities and they are: begin long range precision fires, next generation combat vehicles, future vertical lifts, building a network, integration on missile defense and, lastly, Soldiers,” Esper said. “We need to make sure our Soldiers have the tools they need to fight and win with a clear overmatch on the battlefield. These are the priorities that drives our science and technology and will drive our acquisition programs as we move forward.”