WHOM AS 37th COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS?
by Andy Weddington
Monday, 27 July 2015
There is an "I" in Marine: Integrity means you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else. From U.S. Marine Corps Leadership Traits
Lieutenant General Robert B. Neller, USMC was nominated by the president to be the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Last week a link was sent my way of Lieutenant General Neller's appearance (confirmation hearing) before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In 15-20 minutes bites over several days, as to digest and think about agendas stated and questions posed by senators and answers offered by the general, I watched all 2 hours 10 minutes and 18 seconds.
Topics ranged from Iraq to ISIS to equipment and weapons to women in combat to protecting Marines on recruiting duty and most anything in between.
Save the last ten minutes (wh/ if nothing else watch) - which was more in tune with what the entire hearing should have been like - with Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, the general carefully staggered along the political plank vice confidently marching the military boardwalk. Or so it seemed (to me).
Senator McCain closed curtly. Not pleased with the general's answers he said questions for the record (to the general) forthcoming. It is a shame those important questions will not be asked and answered before bright lights and a hot microphone (for there is a difference between the impromptu nature and pressure of live theatre and the calm of solitude in an office, library, or den crafting written answers).
As to commandants, fair or not all are measured against the first one I served under - General Robert H. Barrow, USMC (27th Commandant).
Regrettably, a link to General Barrow's 1979 confirmation hearing I cannot find. However, available is a link to testimony he offered concerning women in combat to the Senate Armed Services Committee eight years after he retired. It's relevant testimony.
Granted he was retired. But General Barrow's direct testimony of about 13 minutes provides clear insight to his character, integrity, and duty to provide unvarnished military perspective and advice. That which he surely did while in uniform.
Not many but some have smeared General Barrow a dinosaur. Though I know not of any Marine who has done so. Nor any who have served in uniform who know the ground combatant's life.
Dinosaurs roamed earth for some 180 million years.
William Faulkner wrote, "I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail...". That quote, in large letters, once graced (it may still) a wall in the student union at the University of Mississippi (that I remember from nearly 30 years ago when serving as the university's NROTC Program Marine Officer Instructor).
I don't believe General Barrow a dinosaur. He was a Marine's Marine who did not pollute military advice with political cares.
I believe Mr. Faulkner wrong. Dead wrong.
Dinosaurs survived for a reason. They did not become extinct for thinking and politics.
Thinking, and politics, will be man's doom. And long before coming anywhere near the reign of dinosaurs.
In full disclosure...
I never served with nor under Lieutenant General Neller. And have not met him. His patriotism and distinguished service are not in question.
Some senators have some questions. Serious questions. Rightfully.
Rest assured some citizens, too, have questions.
Will Lieutentant General Neller answer those questions without political care?
Should Lieutenant General Neller be the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps?
Watch and listen...
Lieutenant General Neller SASC confirmation hearing
General Barrow SASC testimony
During his early 90s testimony General Barrow opined assigning women to combat units, especially ground combat units, would destroy the Marine Corps (something no enemy had been able to do). A few years later then Major Art Corbett, USMC wrote a thoughtful and compelling piece opining should open homosexuality be permitted the Marine Corps should be disbanded. General Barrow agreed. Some today argue the Marine Corps has been destroyed and for all intents and purposes disbanded. That is topic ripe for stimulating discourse.