Lt. General Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr.

It may be hard to imagine that only 18 years ago a white paper was written by a Lt. Colonel (now General) of the United States Army at the United States Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania that addressed the spiritual decay of our nation. He wrote a 57-page study on the subject stating spiritual decay is a real threat to our national security.

We print a part of the opening Introduction to this paper. To access the entire document for reading, see the notes at the end of the article. He writes:

This study examines the “real threat” to our national security– that we are no longer a “Nation Under God” and are no longer led by those who understand the spiritual dimension of leadership envisioned and demonstrated by our founding fathers. Our founding fathers knew and accepted their role as spiritual leaders and did their best to reflect that in the documents they produced. Most leaders today get caught up in the trap of “secular humanism” and neglect their responsibilities.

The Army of Northern Virginia under General Washington was clearly a reflection of the society it served. The society was God fearing, upright, enduring, and understood the need to be under authority–first God and then those appointed over them. Our society is sick with perversion, immorality, and a host of attitudes which were once unthinkable. Can an army from a sick society endure?

The importance of faith in combat is well documented. It links us to values worth fighting for, sacrificing for, dying for. Leaders must be capable of evaluating the moral and spiritual fitness of the soldiers they lead. Many are ill equipped to meet this need because of their lack of personal faith and spiritual training. In Southwest Asia, commanders discovered the importance of the “faith” dimension of combat readiness. They discovered that the “moral/spiritual” fibre of the soldier is a critically important part of being ready.

Leaders cannot ignore the soldier’s need for spiritual training and the need to see model spiritual leaders any more than they can ignore tough, demanding field training, leadership development, and leadership by example. This type of leadership is provided by those who have a strong personal faith, a leadership style based on Biblical Principles, and have developed the order spiritual climate in their organization. The hope for our nation and the Army rests with today’s and tomorrow’s spiritual leaders.

Lieutenant General Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr., M.Sc., M.B.A., P.Eng.  is the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army, which is the title of the Commanding General of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Van Antwerp graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1972. He completed Ranger, Airborne and Air Assault training, the Engineer Officer Basic Course and the Engineer Officer Advanced Course. He served in the Gulf War. He is a Registered Professional Engineer. He is responsible for approximately 36,000 civilian and 600 military employees, who provide project management and construction support to 250 Army and Air Force installations in nearly 100 countries around the world.  He served for a number of years as President of Officer’s Christian Fellowship.

Source: The Greatest Threat . . . Spiritual Decay by Lieutenant Colonel R.L. VanAntwerp (His rank in 1992), United States Army, 1992; A Study Project Paper, United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania #92-12122; Complete PDF at

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