West Point

West Point is the intellectual backbone of America's defense system. At this 200-year-old elite military academy, new war strategies are being developed, and foreign policy is shaped with a military point of view. Every year 1,000 high school graduates are selected from over 12,000 applicants. They study in old stone buildings on a campus high above the Hudson River, two hours north of New York City. After four years of grueling physical, academic and military training, they graduate as officers of the U.S. Army.

West Point serves one main purpose - it is America's school of war. "It exists because this country is sending soldiers to wars all around the world", says Major Bernard Banks who teaches a leadership course. "That's why West Point was originally founded, and that's why we've survived for such a long time."

Campus life is strict. Before breakfast and lunch, all 4,000 cadets meet for formations. Meals have to be eaten within 24 minutes. Free time is limited. What is normally associated with American college life - sex, drinking and drugs - is forbidden at West Point. Nevertheless, the number of applicants is on the rise, mainly because of the terror attacks of September 11, says Dean Daniel Kaufman. "Our cadets are more patriotic than ever", he adds. "They're not afraid of going to war."

Full text by Peter Hossli (German) : Die Schule des Kriegs