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West Point graduates throw their hats in the air as they celebrate graduation

West Point’s class of 2022 tossed their caps in the air as they celebrated their graduation and commissioning ceremony on Saturday.

More than 1,000 enthusiastic cadets participated in the traditional launch to mark the end of their four years at America’s most prestigious military academy, located in upstate New York.

During the graduation ceremony, Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, challenged the cadets to prepare to fight future wars that may bear little resemblance to today’s wars.

‘The world you are being tasked with has the potential for significant international conflict between great powers. And that potential is increasing, not decreasing,’ Milley told the cadets.

The cadets graduated in glorious sunshine as the Northeast enjoyed one of the hottest May days on record, and the fine weather seemed to further liven the mood among the already excited graduates.

They were filmed lining up in neat rows in immaculate uniforms during the ceremony and speech, but they were also filmed lovingly hugging each other.

The cadets successfully completed New York academy courses and were commissioned as Army Second Lieutenants.

After graduation, cadets will be trained in Army planning, training, and operations during the Officer Leader Basic Course.

They will then have to choose from more than 36 branch-specific specialties before being posted to a military occupational unit for three years.

Approximately 1,000 enthusiastic cadets threw their hats in the air to mark the end of their four years at the US Military Academy at West Point.

Approximately 1,000 enthusiastic cadets threw their hats in the air to mark the end of their four years at the US Military Academy at West Point.

Cadets from the class of 2022 celebrate their graduation during commencement ceremonies at the US Military Academy at West Point on May 21.

Cadets from the class of 2022 celebrate their graduation during commencement ceremonies at the US Military Academy at West Point on May 21.

They were first trained in Army planning, training and operations during the Basic Officer Leader Course

They were first trained in Army planning, training and operations during the Basic Officer Leader Course

Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered the commencement address to the 1,014 cadets of the US Military Academy's Class of 2022.

Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered the commencement address to the 1,014 cadets of the US Military Academy’s Class of 2022.

Milley painted a grim picture of a world that is becoming more unstable, with great powers trying to change the global order.

He told cadets graduating from West Point that they will take responsibility for making sure America is ready.

“Whatever superiority we the United States have enjoyed militarily for the past 70 years is closing fast, and the United States will, in fact, already be challenged in every domain of warfare, space, cyber , sea, air and golf course,’ Milley said.

The United States, he said, is no longer the undisputed global power.

Instead, it is being tested in Europe by Russian aggression in the Ukraine, in Asia by China’s dramatic economic and military growth, as well as North Korean nuclear and missile threats, and in the Middle East and Africa by the terrorist instability.

Milley painted a grim picture of a world that is becoming more unstable, with great powers trying to change the global order.

Milley painted a grim picture of a world that is becoming more unstable, with great powers trying to change the global order.

Cadets graduating from West Point will have a responsibility to make sure America is ready, Milley said.

Cadets graduating from West Point will have a responsibility to make sure America is ready, Milley said.

Drawing a parallel to what military officials are seeing in Russia's war against Ukraine, Milley said future warfare will be very complex, with elusive enemies and urban warfare that requires long-range precision weapons and advanced new technologies.

Drawing a parallel to what military officials are seeing in Russia’s war against Ukraine, Milley said future warfare will be very complex, with elusive enemies and urban warfare that requires long-range precision weapons and advanced new technologies.

Drawing a parallel to what military officials are seeing in Russia’s war against Ukraine, Milley said future warfare will be very complex, with elusive enemies and urban warfare that requires long-range precision weapons and advanced new technologies.

The United States has already been sending new high-tech drones and other weapons to the Ukrainian military, in some cases equipment that was only in early prototype stages.

Weapons like the shoulder-launched Switchblade kamikaze drones are being used against the Russians, even as they are still evolving.

And as the war in Ukraine has changed, from Russia’s failed battle to take kyiv to a harsh urban battle for cities in the eastern Donbas region, so has the need for different types of weapons.

The first few weeks focused on long-range precision weapons like the Stinger and Javelin missiles, but now the emphasis is on artillery and increased howitzer shipments.

Cadets graduating from the United States Military Academy attend their commencement ceremony

Cadets graduating from the United States Military Academy attend their commencement ceremony

Lt. Gen. and Superintendent Darryl A. Williams speaks during the West Point 2022 Commencement Ceremony

Lt. Gen. and Superintendent Darryl A. Williams speaks during the West Point 2022 Commencement Ceremony

Graduating cadets hug each other during the graduation ceremony

Graduating cadets hug each other during the graduation ceremony

Life at West Point

West Point has more than 200 years of history and is the most prestigious military academy in the United States.

To be admitted to the academy, applicants must be no older than 23, be a US citizen, not be married or have children, and must have excellent grades and leadership.

After graduation, cadets will attend a Basic Officer Leader Course where they will study general Army operations, planning, and training.

They will then choose to study branch-specific material and join a unit for three years.

Cadets must serve at least eight years in a combination of active duty and reserve duty component.

Source: West Point website

And over the next 25 to 30 years, the fundamental character of war and its weapons will continue to change.

The US military, Milley said, cannot cling to the concepts and weapons of the past, but must urgently modernize and develop the force and equipment that can deter or, if necessary, win in a global conflict.

And graduating officers, he said, will have to change the way US forces think, train and fight.

Like the leaders of tomorrow’s Army, Milley said, new second lieutenants will fight with robotic tanks, ships and planes, relying on artificial intelligence, synthetic fuels, 3D manufacturing and human engineering.

“It will be your generation that will bear the burden and take responsibility for keeping the peace, containing and preventing the outbreak of war between the great powers,” he said.

In stark terms, Milley described what failure to prevent great power wars looks like.

“Consider for a moment that 26,000 – 26,000 – soldiers and marines died in just six weeks, from October to November 1918, at the Battle of Meuse-Argonne in World War I,” Milley said.

“Consider also that 26,000 American soldiers died in the eight weeks of the summer of 1944 from the beaches of Normandy to the liberation of Paris.”

Graduated officers, Milley said, will have to change the way US forces think, train and fight.

Graduated officers, Milley said, will have to change the way US forces think, train and fight.

Excited recent West Point graduates congratulate each other

Excited recent West Point graduates congratulate each other

Recalling the 58,000 Americans killed in the summer of 1944 alone, as World War II raged, he added: “That is the human cost of war between great powers. Butcher’s account.

Recalling his own graduation, Milley paraphrased a popular Bob Dylan song of the time: ‘we can feel the light breeze in the air. And right now, sitting here on the plain at West Point, we can see the storm flags blowing in the wind. We can hear the loud sound of thunder in the distance. Heavy rain is about to fall.

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