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Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense for documents and emails regarding deletion of the words “Duty, Honor, Country” from the United States Military Academy at West Point’s mission statement (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:24-cv-01757)). “Duty, Honor, Country” is West Point’s motto.

The suit was filed after the Military Academy failed to respond to a March 2024 Judicial Watch FOIA request for:

1. All documents which form the basis upon which the decision was made to remove the phrase “Duty, Honor, Country” from the United States Military Academy Mission Statement, according to various reports (such as https://armedforces.press/report-west-point-to-remove-duty-honor-country-from-official-mission-statement/).

2. All emails between the following USMA officials and other email accounts ending in .mil or .gov regarding the removal of “Duty, Honor, Country” from the USMA Mission Statement: Superintendent LTG Steve Gilland, MG Lori Robinson, and BG Shane Reeves.

In a March 12, 2024, “Message from the 61st Superintendent,” Superintendent Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland announced the change, referencing the Army’s continued commitment to “Duty, Honor and Country” and then announces the new mission statement without explaining why the words themselves were deleted:

Duty, Honor, Country is foundational to the United States Military Academy’s culture and will always remain our motto. It defines who we are as an institution and as graduates of West Point. These three hallowed words are the hallmark of the cadet experience and bind the Long Gray Line together across our great history.

Our responsibility to produce leaders to fight and win our nation’s wars requires us to assess ourselves regularly. Thus, over the past year and a half, working with leaders from across West Point and external stakeholders, we reviewed our vision, mission, and strategy to serve this purpose. We believe our mission binds the Academy to the Army — the Army in which our cadets will serve. As a result of this assessment, we recommended the following mission statement to our senior Army leadership:

To build, educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets to be commissioned leaders of character committed to the Army Values and ready for a lifetime of service to the Army and Nation. [Emphasis in original]

Both the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff approved this recommendation….

“Given the woke virus infecting West Point, deleting the words ‘Duty, Honor, Country’ from its mission statement has sparked justified concern about what the Army’s rising leadership is being taught at the United States Military Academy. And the unlawful stonewalling of the release of records about the issue makes matters worse,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Judicial Watch lawsuits and FOIA requests on Critical Race Theory and other leftist extremism are extensive.

In July 2023, Judicial Watch exposed records from the United States Air Force Academy, a component of the United States Department of Defense, which included instructional materials and emails that address topics such as Critical Race Theory, “white privilege,” and Black Lives Matter.

In March 2023, records from the U.S. Department of Defense showed the U.S. Air Force Academy has made race and gender instruction a top priority in the training of cadets.

In June 2022, Judicial Watch exposed Critical Race Theory (CRT) instruction at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. One training slide contained a graphic titled “MODERN-DAY SLAVERY IN THE USA.”

Author: Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach. Visit Judicial Watch at https://www.judicialwatch.org/


  1. This lawsuit highlights the importance of transparency and accountability within our institutions. The removal of “Duty, Honor, Country” from West Point’s mission statement raises concerns about preserving core values. It’s crucial that the public has access to the records to understand the rationale behind such decisions.


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