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