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West Point Cadets
West Point cadets and instructors

West Point Cadets

A group of 13 cadets and four instructors from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point take on the weekly 'On Leadership' questions. Who better to explore the gray areas of leadership than members of The Long Gray Line?

Follow the Chernobyl example

Q: Republican leaders have built their energy policies around increased oil and gas extraction, dismissing environmental dangers. How should they respond to the Gulf oil spill if they want to preserve offshore drilling as a politically viable option?

A leader's message is strengthened when he recognizes weaknesses in his plan and offers possible solutions. Neglecting to cite weaknesses shows a lack of critical analysis. To salvage support for future oil drilling, the Republican Party needs to address environmental repercussions instead of brushing them off as inconsequential matters.

Optimally, the Republican Party would follow the example set by proponents of nuclear energy following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown in 1986. Nuclear energy production was stigmatized after the disaster, which exposed hundreds of thousands of people to dangerously high levels of radiation. But organizations such as the American Nuclear Society committed themselves to instituting safety features that would protect humans and the environment. Their diligent efforts following the accident not only reduced the stigma associated with nuclear energy production, but has increased the prominence of nuclear energy use, which now provides 20 percent of America's electricity.

The Republican Party can use this Gulf oil spill to promote stricter environmental drilling standards. A proactive response to the spill will legitimize their decision to support future drilling. Action otherwise will only appear dogmatic. -- Cadet Katie Miller

No easy dismissals

Last Friday, while outlining the federal response to the Gulf coast oil leak, President Obama renewed his support for off-shore oil drilling, while acknowledging this must be performed responsibly.

Responsibility is key for the Republican efforts to defend off-shore oil drilling as a politically practical alternative. A vast number of Americans reap benefits from off-shore oil drilling, even those individuals in opposition, but possible environmental damages cannot be easily dismissed now.

As reported by the Huffington Post, government officials may have understated the possible harmful environmental effects of Gulf coast drilling. Instances such as these lead to public disapproval. Republican leaders must help take on the responsibility of properly managing the clean-up efforts and establishing a system of correction. As the Exxon Valdez oil spill has shown, such events to have long-term consequences not only for the marine life, but for local economies as well. Republican leaders must show public concern for these consequences to assure off-shore drilling remains a politically feasible option. -- Cadet Lawrence Brown

Nation before party

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has put Louisiana's delta -- the spawning ground for fish, birds, and other wildlife -- at risk. Republicans should respond to this issue by being open to possibilities beyond offshore drilling. By continuing to clench on policies is a continuing problem in Washington today. We are too partisan, and partisanship is not leadership.

President Obama has called the oil spill a "potentially unprecedented environmental disaster." He made this remark weeks after he endorsed an increase in offshore drilling. The public knows that more offshore drilling is a major Republican energy priority, but it is time now to step outside of one's comfort zone and affiliated crowd, and start making decisions that will benefit the nation. -- Cadet Melvin Walker

Focus on jobs

In light of the recent oil spill in the Gulf, in which hundreds of miles of coastal shores are expected to become contaminated and well as severe damage to the local maritime fishing industries, I predict that Republicans will have no choice but change the way in which they endorse offshore drilling.

Instead of simply arguing that America should drill because the oil is there, they should make arguments about how offshore drilling will help improve the American economy. Recently, TV ads from American oil and natural gas corporations have been showcasing that the industry provides thousands of jobs to Americans in this rough economic time. Republican leaders should jump on this bandwagon, as it is politically hard to argue with someone when thousands of jobs are threatened.

By focusing on the average worker and endorsing stronger safety regulation, the Republicans have a chance at keeping off shore drilling from becoming political taboo. -- Cadet Alex Stodola

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

By West Point Cadets

 |  May 4, 2010; 10:35 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

The assumption that it takes a leader to develop tactical or contingency operations, is flawed.
Operational aspects/details/planning come from experience, whether officer or field soldier.
"Individual" or specialized operations often operate effectively without the drag of team. However, Extended operations cannot be sustained without good supply from a reliable Platform.
Planning,implementing,training for a specialized operation can show weaknesses in the plan and allow for corrective action before implementaion on the Firing line. Common sense? right?

Emergency extraction and transport should it go bad?

I despise "elite officer class".

Posted by: EarthCraft | May 10, 2010 9:50 AM
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"By focusing on the average worker and endorsing stronger safety regulation" - that is anathema to present-day Republicans.

Don't hold your breath...

Posted by: jsmith021961 | May 4, 2010 2:59 PM
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