The criminally negligent decisions on Capitol Hill have spread into MARSOC like a virus.
A typical year used to consist of schools, training and deployment. If lucky, a real vacation with the family. It was a hectic schedule many had the constitution for it. Some enjoyed it in the way that a sadist enjoys pain. Afghanistan was slowly drawing to an end and we all knew things would be changing. With the regionalization of the three battalions (1st, 2d and 3rd Marine Special Ops. Battalions are dedicated to specific regions of the world, similar to Special Forces Groups), it seemed a safe bet that our predictable training objectives would change to keep pace with our new missions. We all braced for the impact of this post-Afghanistan future but nobody anticipated what’s happening now.
Good luck trying to get a school seat at one of the various training courses we all used to take for granted. And if you already reported into a school, consider yourself lucky if you don’t get recalled home for lack of funds. Before the debacle of our government shutdown, our money for training and schools dried up. I don’t pretend to understand the wizardry behind government funding and I sure as hell can’t help you navigate the Defense Travel System but this situation feels wrong. Solid guys are getting yanked out of schools, some, after they already went through the ass-pain of preparing for their course, putting together the gear list, flying half-way across the country and reporting in. According to our S-3 and S-1 (our operations and administration offices), the culprit is funding. Or lack of funding.
On any given day, battalion headquarters would resemble a ghost town. Due to the relentless operational tempo, and the demand for CSOs and enablers to attend training schools, the parking lot at work would be empty. When I drove into battalion, last week, I was surprised to find every parking space taken.
I can only speak for myself, but the main reason I was attracted to MARSOC was the fact that I hated Fleet Marine garrison life. If I’m not in the field or on deployment, send me home. I’ve got no patience for standing in a people-box, conducting uniform inspections or lecturing a grown man on why he should take more pride in the cleanliness of his barracks room. Although, life at MARSOC hasn’t degenerated to that degree, it’s slowly getting there. If you would have told me two years ago that I would be wearing a dress uniform every week and inspecting the barracks, I don’t have a single teammate living in the barracks (it’s all junior support guys), I would’ve called you a liar. But that’s exactly what I’m doing.
We’re professionals and we’re making the most of this downtime by sharpening our skills, but there’s a limit to what we can accomplish without funds. It’s a proven fact: when Marines don’t have a mission, things get stupid. And MARSOC is not immune to this fate.