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It is both intriguing and frightening to witness the insidious
advance of political correctness in the military. In recent months, the
only service not having difficulty meeting its recruitment and retention
goals has been the United States Marines Corps. Yet for some reason,
Gen. James L. Jones, the newly appointed Marine commandant, has decided
to fix what wasn’t broken. He says, according to a recent article in the
Washington Times, that he wants to change the “rigid” atmosphere of the
Corps, “empower” the troops, and facilitate a “bottom-up” operation that
“urges commanders to take vacations and have fun.”

“The idea that headquarters legislates everything is an anathema to
me,” he declares.

Indirectly, the new commandant criticizes his predecessor, Gen.
Charles Krulak — a devout Christian — for moralizing to the troops
about drinking and promiscuity. Apparently, setting an example of high
standards for our troops and asking them to adhere to those standards
wasn’t “fun.”

It was only a short time ago — in the midst of the presidential and
Lt. Kelly Flinn sex scandals — that much was written about how the
military culture was different from that of the general population. By
many, this was seen to be a bad thing. Why should military personnel be
subject to such high standards of sexual behavior when much of society
seems quite happy to wallow in promiscuity and infidelity, pundits
asked.

But how many of these pundits comprehend what unit integrity,
cohesiveness, and morale mean, or understand how damaging it can be to
the fighting effectiveness or the training efficiency of a unit when
commanders “fraternize” with subordinates? The unique nature of the
military provides limitless opportunities for commanders to coerce
subordinates into unwanted acts, and given the high level of
testosterone in predominantly youthful military organizations, the
proffering of sexual favors in exchange for promotions or cushy
assignments works as well, to use the general’s term, from the “bottom
up.”

Moralizing is one thing, but maintaining standards is another. The
commandant says, “I am not decreasing standards,” but hastens to add
that the zero-defect mentality of the Corps had caused a “behavioral
change” among junior officers. He went on to say, “When they get to be
majors and lieutenant colonels, that’s the standard they’ll impose on
their subordinates and that’s wrong. It’s counterculture in my opinion
and it’s not what we should be doing.”

Of course it’s counterculture. Everything the military is called to
do is essentially counterculture (and it’s difficult to see what’s wrong
with countering our morally decaying culture). That’s what military
training has been all about, at least until “always faithful and having
fun” became the new Marine motto. You take immature, often undisciplined
kids off the streets and, through rigorous training and unflinching
imposition of standards, convert them into soldiers who respect
authority and are highly trained and dedicated members of a military
unit.

I take no issue with Gen. Jones regarding the importance of caring
for military families. Their wellbeing is certainly part of the total
morale equation and must be a priority. Of greater significance,
however, are unit pride and the self-esteem of the individual soldier or
Marine. Retention and recruitment are suffering in the other branches of
the service, at least in part because men are no longer attracted to
those branches that have compromised their standards in the name of
feminism. Men want to be challenged. Every Marine I have ever served
with has been fiercely proud of his Marine heritage and the challenges
he has overcome to become one of the “few and the proud.”

If Gen. Jones persists, he, like the other service chiefs, will soon
be standing before a congressional committee trying to explain why young
Americans are no longer attracted to the Corps. As a former Army officer
who served alongside Marine units in Vietnam, I hold the United States
Marine Corps in the highest regard. I have traveled the world and been
reassured each time I saw proud young Marines in their colorful uniforms
standing guard in front of U.S. embassies. They are a symbol of American
strength and resolve, and that symbol must not be tarnished. Yet if
allowed to continue unchecked, this new kinder and gentler approach may
signal the beginning of the end for America’s finest fighting force.



Karl Day is senior editor of Family Research
Council’s
newsletter, Washington Watch.

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