Academy Funds Training Program. Admirals Weep.

A woeful and misleading story appeared on the Associated Press news wire highlighting increased participation in training by United States Naval Academy midshipmen. The headline: “More Middies [sic] Taking Part in Naval Exercises” Subhead: Academy emphasizes practical experience.

This is news?

We were curious about this (inaccurate) story, reprinted by the sometimes controversial Washington Times, so we called the Naval Academy to clarify.

According to one academy official, the much hailed jump in PROTRAMID (Professional Training of Midshipmen) participation from 65 percent in 2006 to 95 percent in 2008 was a result of the academy’s decision to (get this) fund the program. Conversely, previously plunging training percentages correspond to a decision by the administration to yank dollars from PROTRAMID, a summer program expressly for juniors. Lack of money prevented the mids’ participation, causing the maligned decrease in participation. (Funny how that works.) It is unclear why academy officials would be high-fiving the increase since the problem was their doing in the first place. (Slacker mids stand exonerated.)

PROTRAMID is a summer odyssey of sun, fun, and assorted debauchery. Mids spend a week in various locales learning about a specialty (surface warfare, drinking, assorted misdemeanors) and moving on to the next unsuspecting community. One week can be spent learning about the naval aviation stratosphere, another submariners’ Atlantis, and another about the Marine Corps.

The academy can believe what it wants, but PROTRAMID gives fe w if any a realistic taste of life in a military specialty, which is probably why they nixed funds to begin with.

According to an article appearing in the Annapolis, Md., Capital newspaper (Crab Wrapper to locals), the funds injected into the ailing military training program (it’s not really military training) came from – get this – monies in the sailing program. This just keeps getting better. (Was sailing over funded? If so, why? If not, why does a publicly funded entity continue to struggle with its fiscal obligations?)

While Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead and academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler may be concerned with “diversity” at the school, it appears there are more immediate sturgeons to fry.

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