Fleet Marine Life #46 – Integrity Trap

2011-06-08-fleetmarinelife46 - Integrity Trap


One thing higher ups use on their lower downs is something that I like to call the “integrity trap.” This is a trick where higher ups get Marines to incriminate themselves. The higher ups want Marines to admit fault for some wrong doing (harmful or not) now as opposed to finding about it later. The problem with this is that the higher ups may lie or mislead Marines into incriminating themselves. For example:

Douchebag LT : Did you guys go out on liberty without signing the book?
Sgt : I’m going to tell you the truth. Yes, we did.
Douchebag LT : Then I want everyone called back. Tell them all to come back here, get in cammies and stand outside for formation within 2 hours.

True story. I was one of ones in the formation. I followed the rules but I was still punished.

When you do something wrong and you know that there’s no evidence against you then you CANNOT get in trouble. However some people believe the higher ups whenever they say shit like, “We know who did it. Come forward now or else you will be punished extremely.” Well, shit. If they know who did it then why ask? It’s because they don’t know who did it! They’re lying just like they’re lying about “looking out for you.” The higher ups want to cover their ass or maybe they have some sick fetish for getting people in trouble.

However some people don’t know all this and that’s where higher ups step in and guilt you into digging your own grave. They’ll remind you that you’re a Marine and Honor, Courage, Commitment and Marines never lie, cheat or steal (which is the biggest load of crap). And if that’s not enough, they’ll say that you’ll be hammered if you don’t tell the truth and they’ll find out. This may be true but remember, if there’s no evidence, you are free!

Let’s see what happens if that Sergeant didn’t fall for the Lieutenant’s integrity trap.

Douchebag LT : Did you guys go out on liberty without signing the book?
Sgt thinks for a second. If we went out on liberty without signing the book, how can he prove that we even went out at all?
Sgt : No.
Douchebag LT : If you’re lying, we will hammer you!
The Sgt knows that if he reverses his current answer, he will be hammered.
Sgt : I’m not lying.
Douchebag LT : I better not catch you lying to me.
Sgt : You won’t.

Everyone isn’t punished.

I had a PFC that came to the fleet. He was a PFC for the longest time. When I asked him why, he replied, “I got NJP’d for underage drinking.” I asked how he got caught and he replied, “Because I admitted it.” I asked if he could of gotten away with it and he said yes. But he told me that he was compelled to tell the truth as if his life and honor depended on it. The consequence was that he lost his rank, hundreds of dollars and respect. What did he do so wrong? Nothing serious. No one was hurt. Nothing was damaged.

The worst integrity traps that I’ve encountered happened while I was in Afghanistan. A buddy from my platoon was caught with a dead opium plant in his possession. He had to go to several meetings with officers who were to determine if he were to stay in the Marine Corps or not. When the officers asked him whether or not he did drugs, my buddy thought for a second and decided to tell the truth. He said yes. They asked what drugs. He said Ecstasy. When they said how many. He carefully answered one pill. The majority of the officers said that they had no evidence that he actually used drugs in the Marine Corps so they were about to let him go until one Douchebag Lieutenant decided to press things further. Because of that one Lieutenant, my buddy was given an other than honorable discharge a few months before he was about to get out of the Marine Corps.

He lost his GI Bill, his VA Benefits, his disability, everything. Everything taken away because of one sentence. He didn’t harm anyone except maybe himself. But had he lied, he would have been given an honorable discharge. No one would have been mad at him because he served honorably.

In conclusion, if your higher ups ask you if you did something wrong, and you could get away with it, just lie. They’re not there to help you. They’re there to cover their own asses. Telling the truth is not worth losing rank, respect and hundreds of dollars for something so minor.

On a side note, this website has passed 10,000 hits.

Falling into integrity traps since 1775.

  • sadler

    Wow, I figured this was just me. I was on the MSG program in Tokyo. I had integrity when they asked if I was underage drinking (I was 20 which is the drinking age in Japan but since I was MSG I had to be 21), they couldn’t prove it but I told the truth. A few months shy of getting Sgt, I got busted down to Lcpl and sent back to the fleet. I ended up picking up Cpl again before my 4 years were up but damn that MSG was fun. Oh well, glad to be a civilian again 🙂

  • mitchell

    Wow, if you want to do bad things, ie drugs, underage drinking, and other stupid stuff, why join the marines?? Don’t get mad at the usmc for following the rules like they tell you they will in meps, you need to remeber your USMC values.


      Frankly, people make mistakes. It happens. People who are in the marines make mistakes. Granted some of them just don’t care and want to see just how much they can get away with because they’re just overgrown children, but still…

      The point remains that if you do make a mistake, and you own up to your mistake, then you should be punished, and then things should largely return back to normal. In some circles, people would even argue that “being a man” and owning up to your mistakes should result in a lesser punishment.

      The problem arises when you realize that if you do own up to your mistake, not only is your punishment going to be worse, but odds are everyone else is going to be punished for something that they had nothing to do with; whereas denying the mistake, and lying if asked about it will result in no punishment at all (sometimes they find out, sometimes they don’t). What you need to realize is that the marine corps actually creates an environment in which using the “core values” yields a negative outcome in most scenarios.

      To quote Major Peter Munson:
      “The marine corps speaks to the promotion of moral courage, but beyond the shallow willingness to criticize uniform infractions and haircuts, moral cowardice is the way to avoid negative recognition and climb the ranks while those who truly care about doing what matters begin to look for the exit.”

      Safety and Peace

  • Protip: Driving 80MPH in my home state of Virginia is an automatic reckless driving arrest. I suspect the USMC would know about a Marine getting arrested.

    • Ski

      In California 80MPH is pretty normal, they don’t really bother until 85 since that’s when they can hit you with reckless. 70-75 is light traffic there. Our command never gave a damn about speeding tickets – too much more serious shit going on. But that usually depends on the command itself.