The Marine Corps' top general wants his troops to snap back into the discipline and leadership mode exemplified in combat. Those qualities have begun to "fray" in the Marines after 12 years of deployments t Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Disregarding orders and standards, substance abuse, sexual assault, hazing, self-destructive behavior, and failure to maintain personal fitness and appearance standards weakens our Corps," wrote Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos in a letter sent to top corps leaders and noncommissioned officers, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Amos said he's concerned that officers are allowing standards to relax when Marines return from deployment. That leads to serious problems, he said, and he is insisting that the same spirit and discipline that governs Marines in combat be encouraged as well when they return home from deployment.
"What concerns me is we come home and we've said, 'OK, I'm not a Marine leader 24/7,'" Amos said in an interview with USA Today
"You would never even think that in combat. We don't stop being Marine leaders when we come home," he added.
Amos is not instituting new rules, but is calling on officers to redouble efforts to uphold the standards and values already in place.
The effort comes in the wake of several high-profile incidents involving Marines in recent years that drew lots of public attention.
In July 2011, four Marines were videotaped
urinating on three dead Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. The video was made public last year and eight Marines connected to the incident were disciplined.
Earlier this year, two Marines — one male and one female — were shot by a fellow Marine
at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. The shooter then took his own life.
"We have a behavioral problem within the Corps — a small, but not insignificant, number of our Marines are not living up to our ethos and core values," Amos said in a presentation to officers in September, the Marine Corps Times reported.
"They are hurting themselves, their fellow Marines, civilians, and damaging our reputation."
In an interview with the Journal, retired Marine Brigadier Gen. Thomas Draude backed up Amos' call for tougher enforcement of discipline.
"Making the transition from a battlefield environment to a noncombat environment is a change," Draude said. "And it is necessary for leadership to maintain standards and make sure there is no cutting corners."
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