Ceremony Vs Mission Accomplishment… which one takes priority again?

A couple weeks ago I found out that I had been roped into a battalion change of command ceremony, which wouldn’t have been so bad, except that a full two-thirds of my shop had to perform in the ceremony.  What’s more, when we got to the parade deck, the company gunny had the nerve to ask where the rest of the shop was!  I just wanted to scream out “They’re doing their fucking job you pompous prick!  I’m sorry that you seem to think that one old man leaving and another old man showing up is so important that the entire unit should just drop whatever it’s doing to come down here and goose-step around a damned parking lot!”  But, being as close to EAS as I am, I decided to hold my tongue, and let someone else from the shop answer.

Then when we’re going through the rifle manual part, we realized that the only people who remembered any of it were the PFCs and a couple of LCpls, so this bitch-ass MSgt (who got out once, couldn’t hack it in the civilian world, came back, and has been strictly enforcing marine corps regulations ever since.  His fellow E-8s don’t like him because he’ll chew them out over having their hands in their pockets.  But I digress…) puts on his D.I. act and starts running up and down the squads yelling and screaming “Tight elbows” and all of that ridiculous boot camp nonsense, and threatening to take people who messed it up to the I.T. pit.  I was just standing there hoping he would actually follow through with that threat, I wanted to personally bash his face in with my rifle butt stock BEFORE, I got him charged with hazing.  But of course, his threats were entirely impotent, (much like the man himself) and we continued on our ridiculous little practice.

At one point I actually started listening to what the speaker was saying over the speaker system.  She was going on about how the parade that the audience was witnessing had “it’s basis in both history and tradition, the forming of troops on a long line at close interval made possible the massing of firepower from muzzle loaded muskets of yesterday.”  Now I realize that the term “yesterday” can be loosely used to refer to any time in the past, but at the time all I  could think was “Yesterday?  Yester-century maybe, but not yesterday!  Well, the marine corps is perpetually stuck in cultural norms of the 1850s so maybe they think we were using muskets yesterday.”  Then at the end of the practice, the SgtMaj came up to us to emphasize how important the ceremony was by reiterating  the incredible importance of “customs and courtesies”.  These two instances really reinforced to me just how much the marine corps refuses to modernize itself.  It’s like the Generals just came together one day and said “Well if we can’t win a war like this, then we’ll make it a ceremony, because it would be just horrible if we took this outdated form of warfare out of the books entirely!”

But that’s the marine corps, everyone is so afraid that the asinine, self-important pissant who outranks them might get butt-hurt if they don’t validate his existence by dropping everything that they have to do, and put on a lavish ceremony in commemoration of him before he leaves.

For those of you who’ve read the other articles I’ve posted, I hope you can tell that  (with the exception of my first posts from when I started coming to this site) I really try to maintain a balanced point of view when discussing the marine corps.  I don’t want to come across as someone who’s just here with a personal axe to grind.  But then the corps does something like this; trying to make us believe that the base is going to be overrun if we don’t have a proper change of command ceremony, trying to convince us that neglecting to march around with a rifle in hand because some old guy is leaving would be incredibly “unprofessional” while neglecting our jobs and the tasks that make the unit run in order to accomplish this ceremony is quite acceptable, and I just lose my mind.  I can’t stand all of the inefficiency, and the staggering lack of ability to prioritize what is important over what isn’t as important and can take a back seat, or what is so unimportant that there’s not even room in the car for it so it has to get left behind.  The marine corps won’t accept these as possibilities, everything has to fit in the front seat, and nothing can be left behind.   And then they wonder why we become disgruntled and get out.

Alright, I’ll step off my little soap box now, thanks for listening, and a special thanks to Civilian for creating the site.  It feels good to get this all off of my chest.

Safety and Peace