WEST POINT, N.Y. — West Point leaders announced on Saturday they were hoping to finally end the Army's 14-year slump in Iraq and Afghanistan, noting that the nation's largest military service had not decisively defeated its rivals since routing Taliban forces in late 2001/early 2002.
"There was a brief moment in December 2001 when we thought we had a clear victory. By mid '02 the Taliban was basically on its heels," Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, West Point Superintendent, said. "But since then, it's been nothing but one embarrassing setback after another."
Exasperated Army officials recounted a year-by-year series of debacles.
"2002: No plan for stabilizing Afghanistan. 2003: No plan for stabilizing Iraq. I mean, it's just been one setback after another for the Army team."
In keeping with tradition, the Army football team has maintained the same losing streak against its rival, Navy.
Meanwhile, Navy officials pointed to a string of victories, including the daring rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates in 2009 and the successful raid on the Osama bin Laden compound in 2011.
Caslen addressed West Point alumni during a recent luncheon, highlighting steps the Army team had taken over the past decade and a half.
"Look, we've already fired Casey, McKiernan, McChrystal, and even Petraeus," Caslen said. "And still nothing!"
Retired Gen. Ray Odierno, who captained the Army team for four years, spoke of his experience: "We were winning when I was on the team."