I am a SNCO and Former Drill Instructor

Good afternoon.  Let me get this out of the way:  I am a SNCO.  Gasp!  That may make you immediately think I am your enemy.  I am not, I assure you.  Here’s another one:  I was a DI for 3 years.  OMG, that must make me a complete asshole, right?  Nope.  I stumbled upon this website and have read a few of the articles.  While I may not agree with many of the opinions I have read about our shared organization, I do appreciate the fact that the architects of this website are trying to pass on knowledge by posting various Marine Corps orders.   Knowledge is very important and is one of the leadership traits.  Every organization (military, civilian, business, etc.) has rules and regulations that they expect their members and employees to follow.   It is important to note that in the Marine Corps, every single order and regulation is published by an officer.  Look at any MCO and you will not find a SNCO signature on it.  SNCOs do not make policy.  Our job is to enforce policy, regardless if we agree with it or not.

There are many misconceptions and a general lack of knowledge in regard to USMC orders and regulations.  This is a trend I see for every rank, not just junior Marines.  Many SNCOs and officers do not know the information or where to find it.  For example, when asked why a Marine had not received a haircut in a while, his response was that the order stated he only had to get one once a pay period.  Which order, I asked?  THE order, was his reply.  You know…..the haircut order.  I asked him to please print it off and bring it to me so that I can educate myself on the proper frequency of haircuts.  He could not find any such order. I showed him the website where to find every MCO and asked him to pass on what he learned to everyone else.  There is not just THE order, there are hundreds of them! There is nothing in MCO P1020.34G that references how often Marines should get a haircut. It simply states what the haircut regulations are.  0-3, evenly graduated.  Was this a PFC with only a few months of service?  Nope, it was a Sgt who has been in for 10 years.  Another common misconception is regarding the wear of t-shirts while in uniform.  Up until a couple years ago, I had never seen a Marine not wear a t-shirt in cammies.  I had a Marine show up without wearing one.  I told him to go put one on and he tactfully informed me that he was not required to wear one per the uniform regulations.  Yeah right, I thought.  Okay, I will play your game.  Show me.  He did!  It is there in black and white.  T-shirts are optional in uniform unless the commander specifies that you have to wear one in formation for uniformity purposes.  I am humble enough to admit when I am wrong.  I told my platoon what happened, that I was wrong and gave them the info on the wear of skivvie shirts.  Holy shit, a SNCO actually told Marines that they didn’t have to wear a skivvie shirt?  Yup.  Again, its not MY rules.  It’s the Commandant’s rules, I just enforce them.   If the CMC said that from now on, we are all going to unblouse our boots and grow beards……roger that.  Hey Devil, why aren’t your boots unbloused?  Why don’t I see hair on your face?  Again, SNCOs don’t make policy, we enforce it.  I cannot speak for every single SNCO, but I personally don’t give a flying fuck what the order says, my job is to ensure we are all in compliance.  Simple.

Long story short, it is important for all of you that are still in to understand what the regulations are.  There is a MCO governing every single thing we do.  Please educate yourselves.  Don’t listen to your buddy or your roommate because 9 times out of 10, they are wrong.  They haven’t actually seen it themselves or they heard it from someone else.  Research the orders yourself so you know what the actual info is.  If someone is telling you to do something that is contrary to an order, tactfully inform them what the proper regulations are.  That means you have to know your shit.  You can’t tell an NCO that you don’t have to field day because MCO 1234 says so.  You will look like an idiot and will have lost all credibility.  You have to actually read the shit and know the regulations.  BCP is another one.  That gets screwed up constantly.  Read the BCP order and you will know whether or not the proper procedures are being used. Do it, not because you want people to know you are right, but for the fact that you know something is being done incorrectly and you want to improve the organization.  You can complain about the Corps all day long, but if you are not doing something to improve it, then you are part of the problem.  I am passionate about Marines educating themselves and I can’t stand it when false information is being spread around.

If I hear an NCO tell a Marine that they have to do such and such because “the order” says so, I will take that NCO aside and ask them to produce the order and show that Marine where it states that. Every MCO can be found here: http://www.marines.mil/News/Publications/ELECTRONICLIBRARY.aspx

Hopefully, someone learned something by reading this.  Knowledge is power.

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day.

Semper Fi

Submitted by: Gunny

  • Billiam201

    While that may work if you have a SNCO who is willing to read the order, and abide by it, as you claim to be, majestic unicorns such as these are rare beasts.

    I had a SSgt, who we will call ‘G’, who not only didn’t read the BCP order when it was presented to him. He punched the marine in the face who presented it to him, called him a “stupid fat fuck” and threw him out of his office, having made sure to threaten him (and the other three marines in the room) with a court martial if he told anybody.

    The marines crime?

    He told the SSgt that, while he was over his weight limit, he was within standards on the tape. When G called him a “fucking lying piece of filth” he had the nerve to produce the order that Gunny B had given him after G had referred him for being fat.

    Far more of the SNCOs I encountered bore more of a resemblance to G than to the marine you claim to be.

    The finest indictment of maween policy I can think of is that they promoted him.

    Tell me more of the integrity and honor of SNCOs.

    • Sprax

      l
      I’m hella late on this (doubt anybody is even going to read it) and don’t have any experience in any of this which is good & bad, but because of that I can see both sides of the issue having no personal involvement and in a way you’re both correct. You have a right to be jaded by your experiences of bad leadership and feel contempt for them, after all these are people who control your lives somewhat and can make your lives shit.

      However he also is correct about his umbrella analogy. He chooses (even though is his job) to be the shield to stop the shit he has no control over from raining down any harder than it should but ultimately he can only control things that are within his own personal reality. We all share the same plane of existence but only live our reality. He can’t stop nepotism and favoritism among leadership, he can’t stop SNCOs, NCOs, Company Cos. etc. etc. (or however it goes) from turning a blind eye on their peers while being hypocritical with those below them. There’s nothing he can do about any of that, just like how there’s nothing you can do about the guy that’s beating his wife somewhere.

      But what he can do, what you can do, and what the people of this site can do and all of you have done, is spread knowledge. With knowledge comes power and with power comes action. Does it make it easy? No. Not at all. But knowledge and conversation gives the parties involved more areas to move in. One can maneuver more when they’re informed rather than blind. And having more informed people means the higher possibility of getting things done and eventually something getting changed. That doesn’t mean that you (the general you, ie anbody) will be that direct change but you be part of many indirect changes that lead up to it.

      Racial slavery in this country wasn’t started in one night. It was a series of events over the course of the time that eventually lead up to it. The eventual abolishment and even more eventual civil rights acts didn’t happen in one night either. People did what they could, when they could. Many of them went through shit while doing it and others sacrificed but down the line it worked. That’s the same philosophy there. People have been put through shit for standing their ground, you pointed out your own individual case. But somewhere that made an impact, the fact I’m able to include that in this post proves it. Same with Gunny. It’s well with-in your right to up and leave when you got your chance to, it’s still your reality after all to make sure it’s the best how you see fit. But keeping that standard over all well help change.

      But it doesn’t start without being headstrong and vocal. And that’s what it sounds like more people need to do in the Marines. Thankfully this site exists, reddit, and other places exist but now it has to be done in the workplace. Real .leaders aren’t leaders for blending in, they’re the weirdos that stick out.

      • Billiam201

        First off, rest assured your posts will be read.

        Second, as to your simple solution of being “headstrong and vocal”, I have a question for you:

        You do realize that this is an organization that can imprison you for that, don’t you?

        It is an organization utterly dependent on hipocrisy to survive. If the senior enlisted and officers actually had to LIVE by their own rules, they would quickly find it untenable.

        It is far easier to simply look at the rule, give yourself a resounding “nope” and then destroy the career of someone who objected to it for the same reasons you did.

        Many marines also have the power to simply make shit up, whether it has any basis in reality or not. When someone gets “headstrong and vocal” and goes up the chain of command, you can bet he’s going to be severely punished for that too.

  • Gunny

    The point of my post was not to defend the actions of poor leaders, simply to attempt to educate Marines. If the Marine you referenced was 18% body fat or less, they are still within standards and cannot be placed on BCP. This goes back to the intent of my post. If more people, SNCOs included, would read the orders then they would have a better understanding of what can/cannot be done based on the circumstance. You cannot lump us (SNCOs) all into the same category. If you had an accountant that stole all your money, would you blame that individual or would you think that all accountants were lying pieces of shit?

    • S.

      If the majority of accountants stole all the money, the few good ones would likely be thrown into the same category very often.

    • Billiam201

      To the point of Mr. S., it would also become nearly impossible to believe fairy stories of “good” accountants.

      You admit that most of the corps’ “leaders” don’t know the information, or even where to find it. Let me ask you a question:

      Isn’t that a problem in itself?

      The marine corps’ disjointed system in which “leaders” don’t know their own rules?

      (I happen to agree with you that this is true, and I got perverse pleasure from beating SNCOs and officers over the head with their own rules)

      Does the thought occur to you that a system in which people manage to get promoted repeatedly, to ranks which allow absolute and totalitarian control over mens’ lives, doesn’t have any provision in it to make certain that the “leader” knows a single thing about the rules he will be charged with enforcing?

      Yes, I agree that is definitely among the many problems with the USMC.

      A SSgt who doesn’t know what the BCP regs are has no business attempting to put a marine on BCP. The deeper question is, how did someone with no idea of the regs make SSgt in the first place?

      The second question is, when the assault was reported (because I was willing to sit in an office and dare the SSgt in question to testify on a witness stand that he had given an order to conceal a crime) why did the other SNCOs and officers inform me that I could not reasonably expect to dictate to a SSgt the manner in which he could lead his men.

      That’s right.

      Never mind the fact that he assaulted someone, then ordered his marines to cover it up. That was unimportant.

      He was just “leading”.

      I’d be careful about lumping yourself in with these men.

      • Gunny

        I acknowledge that, if everything you are saying is exactly how it happened, this person was in the wrong. What are you looking for here? Would you like me to apologize for every shitty leader you ever had? As the acting 1stSgt of my unit, I deal with legal issues all day. The majority of those legal issues stem from the rank of LCpl. Should I lump all LCpls in the same category because 4 of them got DUIs, 3 went UA, 2 of them used drugs and 1 committed murder? Should I just give up trying to help anyone E-3 or below? No. I believe that individuals make poor choices and can recover from their mistakes. I have just as much of an obligation to them as I do anyone else. The purpose of me coming on this site was to help people and work together to solve some of the issues of our shared organization. I too was once disgruntled and could not wait for my EAS. I came back in because, instead of playing butter butter jam in the hills of Camp Pendleton, we were actually at war in, not one, but two different countries. As a grunt, I wanted to do my part. I stayed on because I wanted to take care of Marines. Again, I cannot speak for every one of my peers. I appreciate the fact that you have had leaders you cannot respect. We all have, but we take the good and the bad, learn from them and apply the good lessons when we move up.

        As to the issue of BCP, again, a lack of knowledge is evident. Only the CPTR and CCI can even fill out the package. In order to be a CPTR or CCI, you are appointed in writing by the CO. No single person can attempt to put someone on BCP. They have to be weighed and taped by TWO different people to ensure impartiality. The package has be signed by a medical officer stating that there is no underlying medical condition making the person gain weight. Then the CO has to sign. Not company CO, then BN or squadron commander. Then the Marine has to get counseled and signed by that same CO. Then IPAC has to run a unit diary entry placing that Marine on BCP. It is almost impossible for the combination of all those things to happen. In 18 years, I have seen 6 Marines actually put on BCP correctly. If all of those things are not done correctly, it is erroneous and the Marine can request mast, then be removed from BCP. Please share that knowledge with your peers. MCO 6110.3 Have a great day.

        • Billiam201

          I don’t want an apology, and I am intelligent enough to know I wouldn’t get one if I did.

          I am completely amazed, however that you would dare decry “lumping all LCpls in the same category” when you very well know that is marine corps policy. If someone screws up, whether that person is a marine or not, whether that person is a LCpl or not, the LCpls are “lumped together” and systematically punished. LCpls in Japan are still being punished 20 years later for an incident committed by a sailor, and further complicated by an incident 10 years later by a marine officer.

          You continue to acknowledge that the “leadership” has no idea what it is doing.

          If 6 marines were put on BCP “correctly”, how many of those “incorrectly” placed were severely and savagely disciplined for their failure to comply with a program that, by your own admission, they shouldn’t have been on in the first place?

          So no, I don’t want an apology.

          What I do want from you is for you to acknowledge that the entire system is broken, and no one has the least interest in fixing it. Even in the face of your own admission of serial incompetence and rampant ignorance, you continue to simply wave your hand and dismiss the problems. It’s very easy to simply say “live with it and move on”, but that simply serves to show that you are an exceptionally “squared-away” example of the same problem. By continuing to promote these people, that you admit are incompetent, they send a clear message:

          This is what they want.

          Decades of stagnation, incompetence and pointless chicanery have led to a broken organization, completely unable to understand, much less fulfill, its obligation to its men. An obligation which is supposed to be preserved by these very procedures that you freely acknowledge are widely ignored. Obligations that are trumpeted from the mountaintops, but handily discarded once they become inconvenient.

          That is what I want, even though I know I won’t get it.

          • Gunny

            I appreciate your viewpoints and I agree with many of the things you bring up. I do, however, think that you already have your mind made up and cannot be swayed. I am attempting to impart knowledge, not argue about every wrong that has ever been done to you. If you are looking for validation, then I will give it to you. Yes, there are many problems in this organization. Yes, there are broken systems. Every large organization has many of the same issues. Ask any of your civilian friends if the like their boss or the management of whatever company they work for. Almost every single employee in the entire world thinks that their leaders are incompetent and they could do a better job. Once you are the person that is in that leadership position, you begin to see things from a different perspective. You now have a better understanding of the reasons behind some of the decisions and can see the bigger picture.

            There is no possible way that every single Marine could know every MCO verbatim. There are hundreds of them. You don’t pin on SSgt and automatically know everything about the Marine Corps. You have to know where to find the references and take the time to actually read them. That is my goal: to educate Marines on where to find the references. It is not going to happen overnight, but I try to impart knowledge on every single Marine that I come into contact with. Through experience, you see more and more issues and learn the proper ways to do things. I could pull the T&R manual for your MOS and ask you to perform every task in there. There are many that you would not know how to do. Does that make you incompetent? No, it means that there is a lack of knowledge. My goal here is to spread knowledge, not take on the burden of every shitty leader you ever had. I am not the enemy, nor am I the SNCO ambassador for the Marine Corps. I cannot validate or defend everyone of my peers. I would ask that you have an open mind and see things from the other perspective, as I have given you the courtesy of doing. I am not a sheep. I can think for myself and I encourage others to do so.

            My challenge to you is to remember all of these things that you see as wrong. Don’t get pissed…..re-enlist. Pin on a rocker and see what happens. Automatically, in your Marines eyes, you are now the enemy. Every decision you make will be the wrong one in their eyes. 99% of the word you pass is not coming from you, it is coming from someone above you. You are just the messenger, but you are hated for the actions of others.
            As a Company GySgt, and acting 1stSgt, I was responsible for the actions of 160 Marines. Every time one of the Marines in my company got in trouble, I had to answer for it. I was held personally responsible for every DUI, every hot piss test, every UA, every Marine in jail. The SgtMaj was six knuckles deep in my ass every single day. Imagine being responsible for the actions of 160 people. It is a heavy burden to bear. Don’t you think that person would become a bit jaded? Again, please see things from the other side. I have the unique perspective of being every rank up until GySgt. I don’t know what rank you are, but you have the perspective of every rank until your present one. I have dealt with much of the same BS that you have, but you have had experiences that I never will and vice versa. You appear to be a very intelligent individual. I appreciate your perspectives. Why don’t we work together to solve some of these issues, instead of having an us vs. them mentality?

          • Billiam201

            First, I owe you an apology. I did not expect an acknowledgement of the systemic issues in the maweens.
            That said, I will address your points.
            The issue is not having to like one’s superiors. A decently competent human being can understand that occasionally bosses find themselves in unpleasant positions. As far as my ability to change my mind, believe me I would like nothing better. I would love for senior leadership to stop covering up rape, assault, and other crimes “to keep the unit from looking bad”, and because it will adversely reflect on the old man’s fitrep. I would love to see marines being led by competent, confident leaders, who don’t have to ruin weekends, careers or lives in order to feel good about themselves.
            I can imagine being responsible for people. I run an engineering department very nearly that large (138 people), and I have not once had to punish every single one of them for the actions of one. I haven’t yet had to take away a holiday weekend from my entire department because one guy was late for work, because I haven’t spent my days infantilizing them. I have treated my employees like adults.
            When their supervisors screw up, and policies are violated, I discipline the supervisors. I don’t speak sternly to the supervisor, while disciplining the employees. I don’t have to be concerned for a Supervisor “having negative paperwork in his file”, while having to look like I’m being tough on something. I am held responsible for every injury, tardy, drug test failure, and no-show for work, and I have yet to make my employees show up 15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior, while I show up an hour late, claiming that “rank has it’s privileges”.
            In this way, I actually hold myself to a higher standard than every single staff NCO and officer I ever met. You may have been surrounded by stellar leadership, and that’s fine, but I’ll point out that the USMC re-enlistment rate is pathetically low for a reason.
            As far as working with me on anything, I assure you that will not be a problem. I got out some time ago, to what I am sure was great pomp and fanfare from my chain of command. They were glad to be rid of me, since I had committed the horrible crime of reporting a sexual assault. They spent their days trying to cover it up (This was including the husband of the woman in question. He was an officer, and didn’t want it to look like he “couldn’t control his wife”), while they spent the next 8 months torturing me for “making the unit look bad”.
            So, I would love to be wrong. I would love to not feel like I wasted 5 years of my life in service to an organization run by liars, cheaters and thieves. But alas, if the headlines are to be believed, crime and cover-ups still run rampant, so it doesn’t look like I am going to get my wish anytime soon.

          • Gunny

            Damn. I sincerely regret that your lasting impression of this organization is that bad. I had my issues with the Corps when I got out and when I came back in, I vowed to try to make the organization a better place one Marine at a time. There is no more personal gain in this for me. I am most likely never getting promoted again. There are no “cool” schools or duty stations that I desire. I have enough ribbons and don’t need anymore. My sincere goal is to help as many people as possible be successful by achieving their personal and professional goals. There are things I can change and things I cannot and I accept have no choice but to accept this fact. I cannot make the CMC reverse the fact that every Marine has to wear Charlies on Friday. That is beyond my control, but I can advise my CO to change our work schedule from 0500-whythefuckarewestillhere to 0730-1600. I sincerely do believe in setting the example and being fair and impartial across the board. I cannot change your perception of the Marine Corps, but I can tell you that there are people within in that truly do care about their Marines. I have had great leaders and poor ones, but I have tried to take the lessons from both and apply them to those that I can affect on a daily basis. Not every Marine I have worked with has liked me, but I think you would be hard pressed to find one that wouldn’t admit that I at least gave a shit and listened to their side of the story, even if I didnt agree with it.

  • private_givenofucks

    I always wondered why drill instructors never let recruits quit when clearly they are not meant for the corps. Is it because it’s a MCO or just because drill instructors don’t want to get graded poorly.

    • Gunny

      Good morning. Thank you for that question. When you say clearly not meant for the Corps, what are you referring to? Unfortunately, it is not up to the DIs whether or not the recruits graduate. I was pleased to see the recruit training SOPs for both MCRDs are posted on this site. I can tell you that the MCRDSD SOP on this site was the exact SOP I used from 2008-2011. As long as the recruit completes all the graduation requirements, they will graduate. Read through that SOP and you will see what those requirements are. There are minimum standards and as long as they complete the minimum requirements, they get an EGA. If you barely qualed on the rifle range, got lowest swim qual, 3rd class PFT and CFT and barely passed the prac test, you have met the minimum requirements to be a Marine. There are several checks and balances to ensure recruits receive fair treatment. The green belts are the toughest on the recruits. They are the ones putting them through the wringer. The SDI is charged with ensuring that the his team does not violate the SOP. He is directly responsible for everything his DIs do or fail to do. If a DI gets relieved for recruit abuse, 9/10 the SDI gets adverse action as well. The Series and Company COs are there to ensure that the SOP is being followed and hold the DIs accountable for their actions. Checks and balances. They don’t fuck around with the SOP. If you violate it, you are done. Plain and simple. I dodged more NJPs that I could count while on DI duty. If it was up to the individual standards of the DIs, no recruits would ever graduate. If everyone had to get 20 pull ups, 18 minutes or les, or shoot expert, 90% of the Marines today would never have been allowed to graduate.

      • private_givenofucks

        But I did go UA. I been UA 10 months now I left halfway through SOI because that’s how early I wanted out. I mean I had the best intentions for myself but just ended up being a shitbird. No one has come looking for me, hell my own recruiter friend requested me on Facebook. I remember having to go to truancy court for years, my highschool record is 13 pages long full of write ups. I thought the corps would fix me but it did not.

        • Gunny

          No one will come looking for you, but if you get caught you will be brought back and have to deal with the ramifications of you going UA. You will be sent to the HQMC Desertion Cell (basically, a platoon of Marines charged with desertion) in Quantico and await processing out. My advice is to turn yourself in, spend a couple months going through the separation process, and be done with it. If not, you will be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life.

          • private_givenofucks

            That’s interesting thanks , I have a relative who is a Staff seargent and he threatened me with 9 years in prison. I mean I can’t see that unless I would have left while in an other country or if I would have stole a weapon.

  • S.

    Hi Gunny, I really appreciate you writing this article. Information is very powerful and helpful. I also appreciate that you are at least willing to follow marine corps orders. Not everyone is like that, and it goes a long way for the peoples lives who you control.

    With that said, there are a lot of MCO’s that are retarded and I think the best leaders are those who recognize those orders and choose to overlook them. For example, you can choose NJP a 20 year old war veteran for underage drinking, or you can choose to let that warrior enjoy a beer with his friends. Your call. You can choose to give a page 11 for someone putting their hands in their pockets when it’s cold, or you can be a decent person and just overlook that stupid rule and let them have warm hands. You can choose to enforce what kinds of sexual positions people choose to perform with their wives, or you can choose to not give a shit how people have sex and let them receive (or give) a blowjob.

    There is the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law. It’s up to you which you choose to enforce. It’s up to you whether you create disgruntled marines who share horror stories on this website.

    • Gunny

      Good afternoon, Mr. S. You bring up many valid points. Unfortunately, we do not get to choose the content of orders and regulations. As I stated earlier, they are signed off on by the officers appointed over us. The rest of us are charged with following those orders. You are right, it is up to that individual if they choose to enforce the rules or not, just as it is your choice whether or not you choose to follow them. Should everyone enforce the same rules across the board? Absolutely. Will every single leader in every single organization ever be on the exact same page? No. The same applies for corporate America. As the owner of a company, you have implemented various policies and procedures for you organization. In your mind, they are fair and just. There are probably at least one or two of your employees that may disagree with those policies. I venture to say that they think your rules are stupid. Someone working for you is disgruntled. It is just the law of averages. What would you do if one of your employees told you that your rules were stupid? Would you change the rules to make that one person happy or would you keep them the same? One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a manager is that you can not please everyone all of the time. When faced with a decision, you must act on what you believe is in the best interest of everyone, regardless if that is the popular decision or not.

      Regarding your statement about enforcing regulations, there are many misconceptions that Marines have regarding the UCMJ and enforcement of it. Number one, your 1stSgt does not NJP you. No enlisted member has NJP authority. There is a reason for this: checks and balances. I can write a charge sheet, but I cannot NJP that Marine. It goes up to the CO and they decide if the charges are valid and merit legal action according to the guidance set forth in the Manual of Courts Martial. If the CO believes the charges have merit, they can act on it by imposing whatever punishment is dictated for that specific charge. Another misconception is that Marines have to accept NJP. They most certainly do not. In my duties, I am required to counsel Marines on the ramifications of legal actions and their rights. They have to read and sign stating they have understood their rights. One of those rights is the ability to seek legal counsel. Another is the right to refuse NJP. If the charges are complete BS, that Marine’s lawyer will inform the command that no legal action can be taken and the charges are dropped. All to often, I have heard stories from Marines saying they were NJP’d because they failed field day, or failed a PFT or put their hands in their pockets. It is absolutely false. There are no such charges in the MCM. Most likely, that Marine is not telling the full story. Page 11’s are another one. A page 11 is simply a formal counseling. They are not punitive in nature. If anyone got a page 11 for putting their hands in their pockets, then that is not legally binding. Check it out:

      “The use of chewing gum, chewing tobacco, cigarettes; hands in
      pockets; or the consumption of food or beverage while walking in uniform or
      while in formation, are examples of activities that detract from an
      appropriate military presence. However, good judgment will govern the
      application of this policy in the field environment.” – MCO P1020.34G

      Show me where it states that it is not allowed. It doesn’t. It simply says that it detracts from an appropriate military presence. You cannot legally charge a Marine for something that is not a chargeable offense. We were told we could not wear our Happy Suit in Afghanistan when it was freezing. Why not? “Because Marines don’t wear warming layers. That shit is only for pussies.” Tell you what. My boys are going to wear it anyway because it was issued to them for the express purpose of keeping them warm when it is fucking sub-zero temperatures. Go ahead and attempt to charge me for disobeying a lawful order. Good luck trying to make the charges stick. I was threatened with special court martial. I stuck to my guns. Charges were dropped and my command was embarrassed when their HHQ asked why the fuck we aren’t letting Marines wear issued gear that could prevent injuries, sickness and hypothermia. Long story short, as long as you know the rules and are following them, no one can touch you. I am not trying to create a group of barracks lawyers, I am just trying to open people’s eyes to the simple fact that there are rules and as long as you are operating inside the letter of the law, you cannot be fucked with. Now, as for people treating you like a slave and taking away your dignity…..I got nothing. I don’t know specifics and I cannot go back in time and change things for you. I can simply do my part to help the Marines around me now.

      • S.

        “detracts from military presence” is so vague, man. You might enforce this MCO in a realistic manner, but don’t sit there and pretend that the rest of the military does. My point here is this. NCO’s, SNCO’s and Commanding officers way too often use a marines ignorance against them, along with bullying tactics to get them to accept a charge or NJP, Page 11 or simply verbal and physical abuse when they don’t have to. But since they don’t know, they just accept it as it being the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve seen way too many people accept punishment for things they should never have been punished for, and they could have avoided if they knew the laws. This is why I appreciate your initial article. However, the fact remains that junior marines are threatened EVERY DAY to accept a certain form of punishment, or else. This is the culture of the marine corps. The REAL culture. If the marine corps worked the way you wanted it to in the first place, this website wouldn’t exist and be as popular among marines as it is.

        • Gunny

          You are right. “Since they don’t know how, they accept it as being the way it’s supposed to be”. Thank you, and I agree 100%. I believe that is the intent of your website; to educate people so that they do know. That is my purpose as well. I freely admit that there are problems in our organization. Maybe if more people took the time to read the rules that govern them on a daily basis, this problem would not exist. Just like we swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States; however, a vast majority of service members have no idea what it says. Our ignorance is our own downfall in many cases. The references are there. No one is hiding them and they are not secret. We just have to know where to find them and actually read and apply the information.

          • S.

            Cheers, great response.

            As for the title of the article, for marketing sake, I am going to keep it as is. The title of this article generates clicks and gets people to read it. If it is titled “Educate Yourself” then it would intrigue less people. Marketing is the same logic behind the title of this website, too. Shock value. If I named this website “PleaseHelpMeFixTheMarineCorps.com” it would not have been so successful. This website thrives off of it’s name. So does this article. Marketing is what I do.

          • Gunny

            Gtg, its your show. I am curious about the questions I asked earlier about your views on the leadership of your company and how your policies are implemented and enforced. Can you expand on that please? I am interested in hearing the thoughts of the other 2,536 subscribers as well if anyone would care to have a civilized and intelligent discussion.

          • S.

            I have many rules and policies in place to keep order and keep people on task. However, with most my rules and policies, for example, NO pay advances, I will ignore for long term and loyal employees. If you are new, however, I won’t risk it and will stick to policy. I run things on a case by case basis with many of my policies, and not just for employees, but customers as well. You have to know when to bend and just let something go. You have to look at the big picture. I would rather bend here and there to keep a loyal and hard working employee, or high paying customer, than to stick to policy and ruin a good thing.

            On the other hand, sometimes I have to make decisions to stick to policy and that comes with a cost. For example, I had an employee who worked for me for just over 3 months, which qualifies that employee for holiday pay, however, in order to get your holiday pay, my policy is that you have to come to work the workday before and after that holiday, or else you forfeit your holiday pay. This includes being on time. This particular employee has a drinking problem and shows up late a lot, to which I always let it go, except when holiday pay came around. She was in sales, and showed up an hour late because of a heavy night of drinking the night before, so I decided that due to being late the day before holiday, she forfeit her pay. She threatened to quit if I did not give it to her. I told her to quit. My reasoning? I run my business, not my employees. At the end of the day I have to draw a line somewhere and stick to it. I am sure you will understand that very well.

            My end goal is accomplishing a mission. That mission is continuing to scale my company and increase profit. In order to do that, sometimes I have to let things go and realize the big picture, and sometimes I have to stick to a policy. If I stuck to policy 100% of the time, my company would be a lot less profitable than it is today, and my employee retention rate would be down the drain. Keeping good people is very important. As is getting rid of the bad ones.

            Edit: A Q&A section on the website is not a bad idea at all.

          • Gunny

            I appreciate you sharing that. As the owner of the company, you have the latitude to change policies or implement them at your discretion. As a mid-level manager in my organization, I do not have that privilege. I am resigned to simply enforcing existing policies. If I do not enforce those policies, then I am held accountable by my upper management. In the case of your employee, you chose the enforce a policy that was for the betterment of your business and set an example for the rest of your employees. If a NCO, SNCO or officer were to do that, junior Marines would raise the BS flag. If one person who was a model employee in his supervisor’s eyes was not held accountable for being late to work; however, another employee who was thought to be a turd was held accountable for the same offense; that would be discrimination and would be detrimental for the morale within the corporation. Read that sentence again and substitute the words LCpl for employee, SNCO for supervisor, chain of command for management, and Marine Corps for corporation. That is the reason that you cannot pick and choose which policies to enforce. Marines cannot sue the Marine Corps, but your employees can sue you for unfair practices in the work place. That is why you have to be very careful in how you enforce policies and procedures and ensure they are done correctly and fairly for everyone. I am not trying to tell you how to run your business by any means, just using that example to illustrate my point.

            I imagine you have some sort of employee handbook or some method of communicating policies to your employees. Does every employee know every single company policy? Why not? Do all your managers know the policies verbatim and do they execute them to the fullest extent every day? Why not? I am using that as an example to show the other gentleman from earlier the reason that not all Marines know every single MCO. Mr. S, my point is that there are issues in every organization and business in which the management and the employees will disagree with how things are done. There are good employees who follow the rules and those that do not. There are good managers that enforce policies and those that do not. This problem is not unique to the Marine Corps. The sooner we realize that, the better we will all get along. Btw, I am retiring in 3 years. Just throwing that out there if anyone is looking for a manger that will assist you in running your business how you want it run to achieve your vision; irregardless of how I personally feel about the policies you are asking me to enforce. Shameless plug, I know.

          • S.

            When I was in the marines, I had seniors that would make up their own rules to make life miserable, seniors like you who did everything by the book, and my favorite, leaders who just did the right thing, regardless if there was some order that told them to do otherwise. They never got in trouble for it, because they did not do the right thing, and then storm into the CO’s office and say “Hey, Sir!, so and so did something that is not inline with our policies, but I decided to help him understand what the right thing is to do instead of just writing him up!”. They just keep it to themselves and go about their day. No need for a formation just to point out that private dipshit got a ticket, or was a little late to the armory, etc etc. Whenever I fucked something up that was minor, I always appreciated getting some council from someone I respected, not being disciplined by someone I did not. Doing things by the book ALL the time pushes out good people, and attracts the bad. That’s why the best marines always get out.

          • Gunny

            I think getting out was the best thing that could have ever happened to me and help me to become the person I am today. Many of the people that join the service are straight out of high school and have no life experience outside of living with their parents and going to school. I thought the Marine Corps would teach me to be self-sufficient. I do not believe we do that. I believe that we teach people to become dependent on the institution. After EAS’ing, I lived with many of the challenges that affect us all when we first get out. Should I pay the light bill or eat today? Should I go to class today or pick up a shift at one of the two jobs I work at to pay the rent? (There was no post-9/11 GI Bill with BAH when I got out.) I was shocked that on Friday there was no safety brief. How am I going to know what not to do this weekend if my boss doesnt give me a safety brief. As long as I showed up to work Monday on time and sober, no one gave two shits what I did that weekend. I had a rough time initially, like most people, but I worked hard to become successful. I gave up the start of a successful career and came back into the military, not because I couldnt make it in the real world, but because of pride. I came home from work one day and turned on the news. I saw my former platoon sergeants face on CNN. My former unit was in Iraq during the start of OIF I and the news crew was following them while they were in the middle of a fire fight. I immediately felt like a bitch. There was no war going on during my first enlistment. I did 2 deployments with a MEU and partied all over the world. That was the defining moment that made me want to put my uniform back on. I felt like I let down my buddies and got out instead of doing my part. 10 of my friends that got out re-enlisted as well because of the same reason. That is my personal story. I know the personal freedoms that I gave up when I decided to re-up. I gave them up knowingly and willingly. I was 26 years old when I came back in and was a little more mature than many of my peers. I began reading MCOs so that I could help the people under me. First it was a fire team, then a squad, then a platoon, then a company. I do not have much longer in this organization and my goal is to pass on what I have learned. Your website gives me an outlet to do that and I thank you for the opportunity to pass info to those that are still in. Are there some idiots in this organization? Yes. Of every rank. My goal is to affect positive change in the ones that I can, then exit quietly and put my leadership skills to use in corporate America.

          • Sprax

            Eight months later your post is correct. I’m not a member of the military, I’m living my life at the rip age of 24 and exploring my options (which includes the marines) and the thing that caught my attention was the name of the article. My first thought was, “Ooo what’s he going to say,” thinking it may have been 50/50 on positive or negative but ended up coming out even more informed.

          • Billiam201

            If you’re considering the marines, and based on your other comment, I’m going to be honest:

            If this “Gunny” character actually is in the marines, the odds of you encountering him (or those that think as he does) are a long shot at best. I encountered a single one who even bore a resemblance to what he claims to espouse, and he ended up getting frustrated and gettin out.

            Most NCOs and SNCOs seem to be under the impression that their marines exist for the sole purpose of their amusement and servitude. This is an organization that only cares how a situation makes them look, not how something works. If a woman is raped, the rapist isn’t punished. Not if they can avoid it anyway. To punish someone for rape involves admitting that a rape occurred, and therefore that the Commanding Officer has men that aren’t up to snuff. That’s why, once it is reported (if it ever is) the person who did the reporting is in just as much hot water as the rapist. Heaven forbid that the victim do the reporting, she may actually get herself incarcerated, if the guy who raped her outranked her.

            I could come up with a hundred other examples, but all you need to do is keep reading. If you want to spend 4 years as a slave to the whims of overgrown children, go ahead, but after two posts I can tell you that this is the worst choice you could make.

      • Goku

        Sgt Maj Barrett, when he was the IMEF SgtMaj routinely made my life hell over those “happy suits.” I had to go stand sentry duty at 4am, when it was balls cold, and our SOG used to stop by the chow hall so that we could all pick up some hot chow and take it with us to our post. The SgtMaj used to sit in the chow hall alone, literally just observing from a corner. It was creepy. but anyway, he would routinely threaten me nine ways to Sunday to stop wearing it, even though our 1stSgt said we could. In his words, he outranked our 1stSgt.

        I mention this because you mentioned the very same thing. Why the fuck on earth does anyone have to be threatened over something so fucking trivial, that can easily be understood with a little bit of common sense. You getting threatened, as a Gunny, is a lot different than a junior Marine getting his life made unbearable by a senior enlisted goon with nothing else better to do.

        I understand that rules were made to be followed. I am a firm believer in rules. However, my issue while in was observing SNCOs and Officers cherry picking which rules seemed to apply to them, while maintaining that all applied to E-5 and below. I personally do know someone who was NJPd for Field Day. I was at his NJP, explaining to the CO that his punishment should fit the crime. That is, you can’t give a Marine who fails field day the same punishment for someone who gets a DUI. Ultimately the Marine in question was maxed out, and I was yelled at by my chain of command for speaking against their recommendations.

        I don’t know you, so I can’t say whether you’re one of the good ones or bad ones. I will say that, just in my humble opinion, MOST of your peers have let down their troops.

        • Gunny

          Thank you for your post, Goku. I would like to share some information about legal issues and it is my sincere hope that many people read this. I can honestly say that in 18 years, I have never seen anyone NJP’d for failing a field day inspection or failing a PFT. What was that Marine actually charged with? I ask because there is no punitive article for failing a field day inspection. Every Marine that is going up for legal action is advised of their rights and has to sign acknowledging that they have read and understood them. There are a few considerations here that I am sure those of you that have been the subject of NJP can verify. I share these for informational purposes and every Marine should know these facts:
          -It is never a surprise that you are up for NJP. First, a charge sheet has to be written and the CO has to know that formal charges are pending against someone suspected of violating the UCMJ. You are required to sign many documents before NJP and the charge must be clearly stated. Again, there is no punitive article for failing field day inspection so I have to wonder what the actual charge was. I dont know the specifics of the case you are referring to, but I will venture to say there is more to the story than simply not passing a field day inspection.
          -Before any NJP proceedings can begin, the member has to sign an acknowledgement and waiver of their rights, if they choose to waive them.
          -Every single Marine has the right to seek legal counsel and is encouraged to do so. They have to circle, initial and sign in the block stating whether or not they choose to seek legal counsel. If they do request legal counsel, the proceedings stop immediately. If the charge was “failing field day inspection”, then there is no basis for legal action as the Marine has not violated any punitive article of the UCMJ.
          -Every Marine has the right to refuse NJP. They can request court martial. They have to sign stating they acknowledge this right. If they refuse NJP, they CANNOT be NJP’d, it MUST go to court martial.
          -If you do accept NJP, you do not even have to be there. You can request that a representative stand in for you. If you accept NJP, you basically telling your CO that he can punish you however they see fit. You are giving up your right to fight for what you may believe is false charges.
          -Again, the member is required to sign these documents. No legal action can commence until these documents are signed. Every one of your rights is explained in the documents in easy to understand terms. For those of you that have been NJP’d, can you honestly say that you were not afforded the opportunity to read and sign the documents that I have described? Can you honestly say that you were not advised of the rights that I mentioned?

          Again, there is a lack of general knowledge in regard to every Marine’s rights. It is tough to empathize when your rights are clearly explained and you have to sign acknowledging that you have read and understood them. Its like people saying that they never understood what was actually in their enlistment contract. Did you actually read it or did you just sign it? I would encourage anyone that has pending legal action to read the Manual of Courts Martial. The link can be found here: http://www.marines.mil/News/Publications/ELECTRONICLIBRARY/ElectronicLibraryDisplay/tabid/13082/Article/125884/manual-for-courts-martial-2012.aspx

          • Goku

            I don’t remember the exact charge. I think it was 134, general article. Basically, the Marine was a turd who went through a slew of mentors. They put him with me because I was “squared away”, but literally nothing anyone did could correct his deficiencies. He was one of those who just looked like shit in uniform, could never pass field day, etc…

            I remember talking to my SNCOs about how he should get punished, but not to the extent they wanted. Everyone up the chain recommended MAX punishment, which I though was absurd. Turd Marine or not, his offense did not even come close to something like a DUI, which warrants a max punishment.

        • oldr

          Reading your first two paragraphs above reminded me so much of all the first class grade A ASSHOLE senior enlisted I saw during my time in the Marine Corps. Not all of them were completely bad, but they seem to be hardwired to angrily overreact to any petty thing they see that is supposedly ‘wrong’ ( within their warped thinking and limited brain power!).

          At OCS, one trivial event that sticks out in my mind was boarding a bus with my fellow Officer Candidates that had a poor junior enlisted driver with his cover off. Then a Sgt Major climbs aboard, then starts screaming at this junior enlisted to put his cover on immediately!!!!. There was a sign right next to the driver that stated he could drive with his cover off for better all round vision, but this Sgt Major didn’t want to listen to any logic or reason. He screamed at this poor guy, saying he didn’t care what the policy was!

          While sitting silently a very similar thought that you wrote went through my mind:
          “Why the fuck on earth does anyone have to be threatened over something so fucking trivial, that can easily be understood with a little bit of common sense?”
          This Sgt Major just couldn’t sit quietly for a 20 minute bus ride with a Marine without his cover on ( for good reason)?
          I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time into the Corps to turn into someone like that. In the long run, all that petty anger and hate over trivial things is going to end up destroying you, and people like that won’t last long in a civilian workplace.
          Its been said over and over again- rules are important for the things that matter. For some other things its absurd to rigorously apply rules.
          I guess for me, one of the many reasons I got out of the Marine Corps because I was fed up with dealing with over grown children that flew into temper tantrums over trivial superficialities!!

        • kkkkkk

          Kinda funny Sgt Maj Barrett was a Scout Sniper and Ranger School graduate. Most guys I’ve encountered who graduated from those courses don’t pull off stupid trivial shit.

          • oldr

            You have a point, but I am inclined to believe Goku’s narrative on Sgt Major Barrett’s petty (asshole) type behavior.
            One of the reasons I am a regular on this site is because when I read some of these stories, its like history repeating itself over and over again.
            In terms of the highest scale of complete and utter USMC brainwashed ASSHOLEDOM, the two Sgt Majors who deserve a special permanent place in Satan’s backside were Sgt Major McGuirk ( of MCB Hawaii) , and the 13th Sgt Major of the Marine Corps Lewis Lee (1995-1999)
            McGuirk’ s favorite activity in his retirement was driving to the base everyday, and finding petty excuses to yell at any junior Marine he saw, plus make phone calls to their commands about earth shattering issues like ‘not shaving on the weekend’!
            Lewis Lee could wake the dead when screaming about a small piece of trash he’d see blowing in the wind near his parking space. He wrote a very moving and poetic essay called “Stop Whining” in the Marine Corps Times , but it wasn’t enough to convince over 60% of my STS Company ( Full of 3rd Marine Recon, SOTG trained, and Amphibious Vehicle Marines) who decided to get out of the Marine Corps as soon as possible!
            I’m sure these men accomplished great things in their lifetime, but it seems that when you are a Marine for so long, and get older and set in your ways, I can’t understand why you’d get so angry and antagonistic over trivialities.
            Btw- the BEST Sgt Major I ever had the pleasure of serving under was Sgt Major Harold Overstreet. (91-95). The few times I saw him, he was thoughtful, intelligent and genuinely did his best to help the junior and mid enlisted ranks. As a PFC, It was an honor to eat the old shit brown MRE’s with him out in field at Pendleton.
            this web site really would have pissed him off

          • Goku

            Yeah, I’ve seen his resume. Still, when he was in Afghanistan, he’d be at the chow hall at 0400 just watching from a corner. I figured he’d be asleep, like the rest of the senior enlisted.

  • jazj70

    Hello, Gunny

    A great article with many good points and a lot of information in such a condensed form. During my time in the Corps, I was always faced with challenges of what MCOs stated by misinformed NCOs, SNCOs, and even officers.However, I had a Chief Warrant Officer who always encouraged me to find the MCOs and become familiar with its contents so I could have a better sense of working within the unit and the Corps culture. It was her advice that saved my ass several times and it made me a better marine in the eyes of my fellow marines: lesser ranked, NCOs, SNCOs, and our unit officers. I was flattered when our CO and XO would come to me for answers by asking me to research MCOs for a specific question(s) they may have had at the time. Now there were regulations that I did not like or agree with, but as you stated, the orders are finalized by officers and NCOs and SNCOs are the ones who enforce the orders given. The point I am making is you are right: the better informed you are the more smoothly things can go when one is in the Corps. Knowledge is power.

  • Sgt

    People don’t bother reading MCO’s and pretend to know it. The worst part is in the USMC, few people are held accountable for giving the wrong information. Same in the Army where people don’t bother reading AR’s but boost to others and intimidate junior enlisted that they know them. However, in the Army since there are more NCOs, other NCOs will correct the NCO that gave the wrong information.

  • schneybley

    You know my First Sergeant gets shit for being all admin and pushing us to do are PME. “The old First Sergeant didn’t give a fuck he was awesome.”. The old First Sergeant is receiving the same hate in his new company, the problem is the BC is making the First Sergeants act like this, almost always if someone is being an asshole about something it’s because someone above him is making him do it. Thank You for reminding us about the relationship that is SNCO’s and officers.

    • Billiam201

      The problem with this theory is that anyone is allowed to decide to make life hell for anyone below them, at any time, for any reason.

      Or, in some cases, for no reason at all.

      I will demonstrate:

      A new Gunny comes in, and decides that everyone is going to stay on field day, whether they live in the barracks or not. No other shop has to do this, and there is no reason for it. But the 6 guys who have families have to stay and hang out at the shop until the DNCO at the barracks notifies Gunny that the Sgt at the barracks has released everyone. Obviously the guys who live at the barracks are at the barracks, cleaning for no reason.

      The brown-baggers are stuck at the shop because Gunny thinks that the fact that they live out in town “doesn’t entitle them to special privileges”. Gunny doesn’t stay, of course. That would be stupid. He goes “rank has its privileges” and goes home at 3:30. He leaves a Sgt. at the shop to make sure everyone stays, and calls once an hour, demanding that he speak to every single last person, so he knows they are all there.

      He also decided that we aren’t allowed to call an E7 “Gunny”. It says “Gunnery Sergeant” on his promotion warrant, and in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster you will address them as such. Never mind that no other Gunny minds this, but he does, and he will burn you if he hears you calling any E7 by that name. Same with “Master Guns”,”Top”, and “Gunner”.

      Pointless bullshit, because Gunny V. simply wants to show everyone how much of a throbbing douche-bagel he can be.

      • schneybley

        I can see how that works. Being a reservist I don’t deal with this exact type of nonsense thank God and the I’ve been blessed with fair minded Gunnery Sergeants over the years. So we both have a point that sometimes the SNCO want’s to be a dick cause he/she has the power but other times it’s the brass that’s forcing them to do it.

      • 332156id45

        As a Marine Veteran I know that you based this on your real life experience. It seems is fully consistent with the behavior of some Marine NCOs /SNCO’s- that is, petty tyrannical, vindictive BULLIES that will abuse and manipulate rules ( plus their rank) to harass juniors.
        I have another real example from M.C.B Hawaii in the mid 90s- A piece of Shite Sergeant named Sgt Russell ( plus the other Sgt named L and the useless command that turned a blind eye toward their bullying). This Sgt Russell was a complete loser who had re enlisted simply because he had no other options, had a dependepotamus wife that he hated ( married to get out of the barracks), and had no problem taking all his frustrations out on the lesser ranking Marines in his shop whenever things weren’t going his way.
        When he found out that he was he was not going to be able to re enlist. he took his frustrations out on his ‘worker’ Marines by giving us terrible pros and cons, setting unreasonable timelines, and making us all crowd into his office every time he heard something he didn’t like. Its very difficult to get anything tangible accomplished when your constantly being call into a tyrants office to be yelled at for something you had nothing to do with!
        One particular incident sticks out- both he and Sgt L made his shop field the barracks for up to 10 hours, while the two shitbags went off the to the PX and bought BEER to drink! The drunker they became, the more absurd discrepancies they would find. When we were starting to get fed up with this, they got us a midnight formation and yelled about how they were trying to instill ‘barracks discipline!” At least it didn’t last all night, and the next day they laughed about it amongst themselves that they were Sgts, and anybody who looked at them the wrong way could be written up for ‘disrespect’!
        Looking back on it, both I and the other junior Marines were nothing but COWARDS who didn’t stand up to these shitbags- since most of us were short timers who were about to get out anyway. We did try and get back at these two in every subtle way we knew how.
        Of the complaints we did file, the 1st Sgt and Major of our company didn’t pay much attention to them. I guess they were more concerned about making sure their comfortable temporary commands were as incident free as possible, so they could move on to something else.
        I think that for every decent SNCO in the Corps there’s always at least 10 other dirtbags that won’t hesitate to abuse their authority. The key message here is what I congratulate the founder of this web site, (plus the other contributors to it) for. STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS- just because a Marines gains some stripes on their shoulder doesn’t mean they are going to do the right thing.

  • BLCM

    Gunny.. Great advice.. Semper Fi!