There has been a fair amount of talk lately about Gen Amos’ “Reawakening” initiative, and how it impacts the Marine Corps. The blow to morale as well as the apparent concerted effort to force good Marines out in favor of poster-boy “yes men” have been extensively discussed elsewhere. But there is a facet of the problem that hasn’t been discussed.
Anyone who has been an NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) in the last few years has noticed that discipline has slipped somewhat. It’s not the “Lord of the Flies” scenario that Gen Amos seems to think it is, but then, most combat-arms NCOs don’t consider tattoo sleeves to be the ultimate mark of a lack of discipline.
Gen Amos thinks that it’s combat, and the “combat hardened” mindset that are responsible for the lack of leadership he blames for slippage in discipline. If he wants to know the source of the lack of leadership and the loss of discipline, he’d best look in the mirror.
The officer corps (barring many excellent company-grade officers) has long ago turned into not a group of leaders of warriors, but of managers and politicians. This is why the Marine Corps has had more and more restrictions placed on Marine NCOs as to how they can enforce discipline. More and more measures have been labeled “hazing” by people with no experience in the ranks and no understanding of the value of physical correction in a combat-oriented service. MCO 1700.28B, the Marine Corps Order on Hazing includes in its definition “requiring excessive physical exercise beyond what is necessary to meet standards.” Your boot screwed up and you’d rather give him pushups or eight-counts to make sure he learns his lesson? Sorry. Hazing. You’re now in trouble. Hate to tell you this, folks, but the threat of paperwork doesn’t have the immediacy of owing your team leader five hundred eight-counts. A certain Company Commander once said to me, “As men, we learn through pain and repetition.” I couldn’t agree more.