Generals Say “Time To Fix the Marine Corps” And I Couldn’t Agree More… Sort Of… (Part 4)

Do as I say no as I do.

[This series is a response to a pair of recent article in the Marine Corps Times: “Commandant calls for new crackdown” & “Generals say it’s time to fix the Marine Corps”.]


My final suggestion for this series is bound to be the one that is least likely to be carried out: All officers, regardless of rank or billet, should be limited to 30 years in the Marine Corps, all enlisted Marines should be limited to 24 years, and all promotion criteria should be adjusted accordingly. (As an aside, if promotion requirements are going to be altered, there should also be the addition of MOS-specific testing & “leadership” testing as a promotion requirement. Anybody can run fast, do some pull-ups and accurately shoot a rifle with a scope. If someone is going to be an NCO and fill some sort of leadership role, they should be able to show on paper that they know about their MOS, and that they are at least aware of the basic tenets of Marine Corps leadership.) Frankly, General Amos was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in 1970; that means he’s been an officer for 43 years now. Similarly, Sgt Maj Barrett enlisted in 1981, has been in the military for 32 years, and has spent the last 11 of them as a Sgt Maj.

Does having been in for 30-40 years or more, automatically mean that they’re bad Marines or bad at their jobs? No, not necessarily. I know many Marines have their own opinions regarding the leadership abilities (or lack thereof) of Gen. Amos and Sgt. Maj. Barrett, and frankly, it is beyond the scope of this article for me to defend or condemn them as individuals. What I will say is that being in the Marine Corps for that long is bound to leave you hidebound, institutionalized, and very likely unable even to realize that some changes can be for the better. This is especially evident in Sgt. Maj. Barrett’s comment that “Service Charlie Fridays” is a good idea because it’s the way that it was done when he was a junior Marine, back in the ’80’s. Realistically, maybe “Service Charlie Fridays” was good enough for a decade where the Marine Corps had no major combat operations – maybe it was good enough for an era when you could go nearly 10 years and be promoted to SSgt before going on your first deployment like Sgt Maj Barrett did – but it obviously wasn’t good enough for a decade of war. Bearing that in mind: Why would the Marine Corps – the “tip of the spear” – ever want to go back to policies that clearly weren’t conducive to combat effectiveness? The only possible answer is quite simply that the current Generals and Sgts Maj. are (and were) so hidebound that they only grudgingly accepted those changes at the time.

Limiting Officers to 30 years and Enlisted to 24 years will help to keep new blood circulating into the most senior positions, reducing the institutionalization, and hopefully allowing for greater efficiency, adaptability, and capacity for mission accomplishment in the Marine Corps.


All things considered, I must say that I agree with the General’s intentions; and it is most definitely time to fix the Marine Corps. The problem is that the Generals and senior SNCO’s only seem to be concerned with fixing the aspects of the Marine Corps that aren’t broken.


This concludes my series responding to the top brass’ plans for the Marine Corps. Please comment below and let me know what you think.

Safety and Peace


  • USMCFormer

    I might as well be the first to comment about the piece you wrote above. As usual, you make some solid points in regard into limits to the length of service, but this can either help or hinder the goal you are trying to achieve. And good luck trying change the military retirement system when there are a lot of powerful, well connected and dominant personalities who have a vested interest in the status quo ( kind of like the Military Industrial Complex of the United States, who would rather see America go broke that miss out on WAR and SECURITY PROFITS!!)

    I pay respect to General Amos and Sgt Major Barrett for devoting so much of their lives to an organization they no doubt love, but there’s no escaping the fact that leadership decisions are a function of the personalities of the people who occupy them.

    It not for me to judge these two- I only met General Amos years ago when in Iraq and at Miramar, and back then I was only a Lieutenant and he did what most senior leaders always do- talk down to you, maintain an air of superiority and only listen when he has to. What frustrated me was the fact that I occupied a role as an Financial Officer for a MAG, and even with my basic knowledge of accounting it was obvious even in 2005 that the Corps could not sustain its rate of operational tempo and also have its part of its budget go towards things like the V-22, F-35 etc. It was a huge juggling act to move money from one fund to another just to create an illusion of short term financial sustainability knowing that it would not work in the long term!

    Higher ranks like Amos and other at the time I felt did not have the moral courage or fortitude to confront their superiors about these issues, and just like no general back in the late 1960’s would have been honest about the Vietnam War, such senior leadership would not ‘rock the boat’ because it would be a career killer given the White house administration back then.
    In short- as a taxpayer I have no sympathy when the Commandant or any other branch of the military is crying poor and cutting back on the essentials- its a problem that was years in the making, is their own damned fault because they mismanaged what they had, and could have taken steps to avoid years ago!!!

    And I’m sure that most learned military men are mindful of the quote:

    “The only thing harder than getting a new idea into the military mind is to get an old one out.”
    If the Commandant and Sgt Major have this mindset, then they are no different from other past military leaders. The fact that they insist on a HQ Marine Corps top down micro management approach on petty issues ( like the sleeves down and Charlies on duty) is not a good reflection of them.
    If I was commandant could I do a better job? Probably not, but some things I would focus on if I wanted to Corps to evolve into a smaller and more cost efficient force is :
    -Only impose a top down approach to remove negative elements of a current Marine Corps culture that tends to make a term of service a test of how much bullshit you have to endure, as opposed to making a more open, positive and flexible environment where people want to perform to their best, and retain your best people. For example, outlaw any form of mass punishment in Fleet Marine Units- all it does is the piss the good Marines of!
    -adjust your force structure and scale back your commitments so that the units you do have are better equipped, their equipment better maintain as opposed to more numbers with crappy gear. (Easier said than done I know)
    Lastly ( to keep this short), do away with rules that just don’t make any sense! One of the most dumbest and idiotic rule I remember from my time in was that you were not allowed to carry or use an umbrella when it was raining. That is just plain stupid!!, and civilians use to laugh at us when they saw Jarheads getting drenched in the rain.

  • USMCFormer

    I am very disappointed to have recently read that senior enlisted and mid grade Officers on active duty are reading web sites like this one, and trying to correlate posts with any Marines or outstanding cases they may be personally aware of, in an attempt to punish any junior enlisted or mid grade enlisted personnel.
    Given the retarded nature of this organization I once belonged to, and the fact that leadership would rather punish Marines for being honest, and refuse to confront the shortcomings of their own stupid policies, I will say this to anyone on active duty considering petty retaliation towards me or other who expose legitimate problems and/or their organizational incompetence:
    I take pride in the fact that when off active duty, I personally called two Captains at HQMC and told them to TAKE A GRENADE AND SHOVE IT UP THEIR ASSES when I kept getting letters asking if I was interested in returning to active duty (2006-2009 period) since they were short in my primary aviation MOS’s, and also sending me concurrent letters at the same time that I was to be delayed submission on the promotion list to make Captain! (Oh, we want you back voluntarily to use and abuse you but we are still going to deny you any advancement opportunities!).
    In my postings I have tried to be objective and fair, but discounting my own personal experience and the mindless stupidity that being part of the Marine Corps I was forced to endure it hard to hide the fact that the USMC is not a worthwhile career path for any intelligent, ambitious, driven young man!!
    Its run by idiots and only an idiot would join it!!


      Where did you read that, if you don’t mind my asking? I’ve seen a couple of people on this site say as much, but I’d be very interested in any outside sources you may have found.

      • USMCFormer

        Mention is made of this in the article The Marine Corps Times did of this web site, but it is also based on background e-mail and informal conversations with a few remaining Marines I know on active duty ( who support the idea of this site but would not say it openly where they work).
        The reality of it is is that it would be very difficult for a command to charge a Marine for posting on this site unless they could identify who it was and/or they revealed sensitive information.

        • NINJA_PUNCH

          Well, S_The_Mod and I have always joked that we would be absolutely thrilled if our site made it onto an annual training brief. So I always chuckle a little when I think that some SNCO is out there trying to burn marines for being on this site.

  • Gunny G

    Good article! The more things change, the more they stay the same, the cream doesn’t rise to the top, usually only the turds. And our insane PC environment sure doesn’t help. Check us out on Semperf Fi