Words fail me. CDR Stroud needs to apologize.

I will be posting more on the overall tenor of the all-hands meeting on Friday (audio links here), in particular about the pathetic lack of leadership displayed by all three presenters, but this particular comment by CDR Stroud needs to be addressed separately:

This starts at 11:20 of this audio clip:

CDR. Stroud: “OK? Family….You guys need to look at yourselves, you’re brothers and sisters, you’re in this together….Some of you are in this are roommates since indoc….
You know each other, inwards and backwards. But if you’re brothers and sisters…who am I?…I’m your Daddy” (audience laughter)…
“Commander McCarthy is your Momma…” (derisive comments, laughter, cat calls).
“It means working together, looking out for each other…..Ok? Looking out for each other and doing what’s right…sometimes looking out for each other, being part of a family isn’t easy, OK? There’s discipline involved. Mommies and Daddies have to spank…kids.” (derisive audience laughter, groans)
“Heads up!…as a family you guys have to work together, look out for each other….break this (inaudible), break the ostracizing of the Superintendent, break that down, get that out of our family…OK?…we don’t want that, that’s an adopted child that came into the family, we don’t want it anymore, alright?”

(Ends at 12:57) (Emphasis added.)

Those words were hurtful. They were wrong. As an adoptive parent, I can personally attest to the love, effort and desire that goes into adopting a child into a family. They are every bit as wanted as a biological child.

The reaction of the midshipmen to this statement shows that they knew just how wrong this was. It is disappointing — to say the least — that one of the other two “leaders” on the stage didn’t immediately step forward and correct CDR Stroud. The midshipmen are better grounded; and their reaction demonstrated that their values are better than those exhibited by those on the stage.  Read this post from yesterday from a first class midshipman and compare the reaction of leadership and the midshipmen to CDR Stroud’s statement. It truly is evident that the problem at the Academy lies with leadership — even the LMI Report, with its many flaws, recognized that.

Statistically-speaking, there were almost certainly midshipmen in the audience who are adopted. As an act of leadership, CDR Stroud should acknowledge that what he said was wrong and apologize to the midshipmen and faculty.


  1. Wow. Nothing to add.

    Helis is 0-2 with his last two Commandant hires. First Sosa being hit with SA/SH, now this guy.

    Also, a note to Stroud. (We know they read this from Rodriquez’s insulting comments about parents.) Quit blaming the Mids for “ostracizing” Helis. My Mid has formed their opinion on Helis based on how Helis treats/mistreats the Mids. My Mid was not there in 2012 when Helis showed up. Helis has been aloof and mistrusting of the Mids since my Mid showed up. Failure of Leadership has resulted in Helis ostracizing himself from the Mids. Any DOD Service would have recognized this problem and removed Helis for Failure to Lead/Dereliction of Duty by now. We are not DOD, we are DOT, and it’s apparent that HR just doesn’t give a damn by their reaction to SA/SH charges against Staff members. HR and Helis are there to protect employees, not students.

    Perhaps a Dept of Education Lawsuit regarding Staff on Mid SA/SH is needed to get DOT’s attention?

    Note to Helis. Your Army Bio is vague, so we can not tell if you led men in actual combat or not. Take an adage from the Marines, “Troops eat first”. Show them their welfare is more important than yours. Actions not words. You reassigning problem staff members who harass Mids to other jobs there is horrible “leadership”. Sort of like the Catholic Church used to just reassign problem priests. Perhaps you’re years as an Academician has led you to implement flawed theories on how to “lead”. Whatever it is, you’re failing at it. History will not be kind to you.

    • Hellis never saw any combat. He graduated from West Point as an Infantry Officer and attended Ranger school. However, he had serious leadership issues and his evaluations were reflective of that. He left the Infantry and went into the academic side of the Army after he saw he would not continue in the Infantry.
      I’ve often wondered why he is allowed to wear that Army pin on a Navy uniform, but someone explained it was the Ranger pin. I haven’t confirmed that personally, as I thought it just said Army. A Ranger tab would be authorized, but definitely not some Army Strong bling pin.

  2. This article is a waste of energy, and it makes me less likely to read the next article you post. Save your outrage for actions, words only have power if you allow them to affect you.

    • When the Academy leadership recognizes that “words only have power if you allow them to affect you,” I’ll stop posting about words such as these. Assume it was a midshipman who made a similar ill-conceived comment, but on the topic of SA/SH. Do you think at his Class I hearing, the defense that “It was a joke, ‘words only have power if you allow them to affect you'” will stave off the forces of political correctness?

      I’ve heard good things about Stroud from when he was at SUNY and from early reactions from the midshipmen. Midshipmen who were present on Friday say that he was making a joke. I’ll assume (1) it was a joke; (2) it was unscripted; and (3) that he regretted it the moment he said it. We’ve all been-there-done-that in one social setting or another. Fine. Apologize and move on. That will tell us more about Stroud than anything else. Likewise, if he retreats behind the bunker instead of apologizing, we will also know a lot more about him.

  3. “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – General Colin Powell

  4. Whiny Adoptive mom chiming in.

    I can’t ascribe motives to CD-R Shroud. It sounded to me as if he was attempting to rally the mids to support one another and I suspect he regrets his very poor choice of words and even worse analogy. He could have easily apologized when he heard the groans of midshipmen when he said it. He didn’t. I’m not holding my breath and here’s why;

    As an adoptive mom, I’ve heard it all. I choose to not get worked up over the opinions of others in areas which they are not only uniformed but blatantly ignorant. Moving on.

    I have read the posts on FB by KP mids bemoaning the fact that you have highlighted this.
    I understand their desire to have the main issues highlighted. I can’t imagine the frustration they feel day in and day out. I desire that as well and I believe the majority of alumni, stakeholders and parents do as well. It’s not one or the other.

    Having said that, THIS is a prime example of the problem at KP. Poor leadership has been highlighted time and time again. Why would we NOT call attention to further evidence of the problems there? Its about building a case for change based on clear evidence of failed leadership and poor direction.

    So, no. It’s really not about ignorant statements. You can brush those off and rise above. It’s about putting leadership in place that is equipped and able to lead KP out of this mess.

  5. Interesting….the Superintendent and Deputy Administrator stress the need for building a culture of respect, then the USMMA staff joke about committing physical violence against the students and the touching of the private area [Rand study includes in the definition the buttocks as a private area].

  6. As an ADOPTED child and USMMA alum, there is just no excuse for the moronic nonsense that poured out of Stroud’s face. I understand what he’s getting at, but to choose this type of analogy is the rhetoric of an uneducated swine… especially deplorable considering that these comments came from a member of the leadership team at one of our country’s Federal Service Academies.

    This entire SA/SH nonsense as a means to DELETE Sea Year seems to be just that… NONSENSE. (This in no way is meant to minimalize these types of crimes, it just makes absolutely NO SENSE that in the nearly 74-year history of our beloved Alma Mater, SA/SH is SUDDENLY a reason to change EVERYTHING about the school). My gut tells me that there is a truly EVIL motivation for this entire movement. The sad thing is, if it all ever bubbled to the surface, I can guarantee that there is a great deal of corruption at the root of it all. And what would be the motivating factor? As in all cases of high level corruption: FOLLOW THE MONEY. This may sound like a bunch of tin-foil-hat nonsense, but when the truth comes out one day, MARK MY WORDS: THE SA/SH VEHICLE FOR CANCELLING SEA YEAR IS SOMEHOW A RUSE FOR LINING SOMEONE’S POCKETS.

    My thoughts and hopes are with those Midshipmen still attending our beloved Alma Mater. Lord knows they entered starry-eyed and proud, with hopes of having a lucrative career in the Maritime Industry or Armed Forces. In spite of all of this NONSENSE, let’s hope and pray they still achieve that. The worst part is that it seems -from the outside looking in- that a great deal of the pride and prestige of attending and graduating from the USMMA has been robbed of those folks… and THAT is truly the saddest aspect of this all.

  7. I am not quite willing to start criticizing Stroud for his comment. It was a mistake and it should be accepted as such, barring anything else he does that might build on it. I would only hope, as was said above, that when a mid or staff person makes a similar verbal”mistake”, they are also treated with the same patience. In fact, if one reads the LMI report, it does indicate that some people do not report minor SASH type comments simply because they are scared that the punishment of the offender might be excessive and unwarranted. In other words, it is the leadership that they do not trust.

  8. What bothered me most is not the adoptive comment, but this part “Mommies and Daddies have to spank…kids.” (derisive audience laughter, groans)
    “Heads up!…as a family you guys have to work together, look out for each other….break this (inaudible), break the ostracizing of the Superintendent, break that down, get that out of our family…OK?”
    Sounds like intimidation. If you don’t agree with the Superintendent, you will be punished.

  9. As for Hellis, I for one will not criticize anyone who has served for so long in a manner that demeans the nature of that service. He spent many years in the army and for that we should be grateful If the army didn’t need academics or administrative types who never saw combat, it wouldn’t have them. If that was the path he took or was put on, I for one will not criticize it. Never having served myself, I have no right to do so.

    ON the other hand, the report is very specific about the failure of the current leadership at the academy and the lack of trust that exists between the various interest groups. It may be time to clean house, not because of Hellis’s lack of certain experience, if in fact that is true ( I really don’t know enough about the military to comment on that), but because of a lack of ability to engender confidence in those he leads today. On a personal level, the few times that I have had an opportunity to speak to him, he seemed like a decent and dedicated guy. This whole process over the last 7 months cannot be good for his health or his career.

    Unfortunately, the positon that he basically took up, MARAD’s point person on the stand down, makes it almost impossible for the mids to believe that they can count on him. The lack of trust that I hear about from the kids I have spoken to is not easily overcome. Quite frankly, even if he could eventually restore that confidence, it might simply take too long to achieve. These kids have to get their education (sea days) now–they don’t have a “long haul” in terms of the academy itself and they feel like they are being ripped off.

    The Superintendent, because he is the one actually on campus, takes the brunt of the bad feelings. The others get to hide in D.C.. Although I have not been particularly sympathetic to him in many of my posts, I don’t think the stand down was his idea. He’s just the one who has had to live with it every day.

    As someone told me yesterday, much like an NFL head coach who has stayed around too long, “he has lost the locker room..” I think that is the best analogy. No need for personal attacks. If he stays, I wish him success because I wish the academy success. If he leaves, I wish him future success as well and I remain grateful for his service.

  10. CDR Stroud is one of the “good guys”. The problem is in Washington, not at Kings Point. He may have misspoken, but he was thrown to the wolves by Secretary Fox.

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