View Full Version : Farewell to the Corps

07-20-04, 07:26 AM
07-19-2004 <br />
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Guest Column: Farewell to the Corps <br />
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By Col. Wayne Shaw, USMC

07-20-04, 07:26 AM
He is remarkably well disciplined in that he does what he is told to do even though he knows it is stupid. He is very stoic, but not blind. Yet I see senior leaders all of the time who pile more on. One should remind them that their first platoon in 1968 would have told them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. These new Warriors only think it. He is well aware of the moral cowardice of his seniors and their habit of taking the easy way out that results in more pain and work for their subordinates. This must be reversed.

The senior leadership must have the morale courage to stop the misuse and abuse of the current force.

The force is too small, stretched too thin and too poorly funded. These deficiencies are made up on the backs of the Marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers. The troops are the best we’ve ever had and that is no reason to drive them into the dirt. Our equipment and infrastructure is shot. There is no other way to put it. We must reinvest immediately and not just on the big ticket items like the F-22. That is the equivalent of buying a new sofa when the roof leaks and the termites are wrecking the structure.

Finally let me spend a minute talking about camaraderie and leadership.

I stayed a Marine because I had great leaders early on. They were men of great character without preaching, men of courage without ragging, men of humor without rancor. They were men who believed in me and I in them. They encouraged me without being condescending. We were part of a team and they cared little for promotions, political correctness or who your father was. They were well educated renaissance men who were equally at home in the White House or visiting a sick Marine’s child in a trailer park. They could talk to a bar maid or a baroness with equal ease and make each feel like a lady. They didn’t much tolerate excuses or liars or those with too much ambition for promotion.

Someone once told me that Priests do the Lord’s work and don’t plan to be the Pope. They were in touch with their Marines and supportive of their seniors. They voiced their opinions freely and without retribution from above. They probably drank too much and had an eye for beautiful women as long as they weren’t someone’s wife or a subordinate. You could trust them with your life, your wife or your wallet.

Some of these great leaders were not my superiors – some were my Marines. We need more like them at the senior levels of government and military leadership today. It is indeed sad when senior defense officials and generals say things on TV they themselves don’t believe and every service member knows they are lying. It is sad how out of touch with our society some of our generals are.

Ask some general you know these ten questions:

1. How much does a PFC make per month?

2. How big is the gas tank on a Humvee?

3. Who is your Congressman and who are your two Senators?

4 Name one band that your men listen to.

5. Name one book on The New York Times best seller list.

6. Who won the last Super Bowl?

7. What is the best selling car in America?

8. What is the WWF?

9. When did you last trust your subordinates enough to take ten days leave?

10. What is the leave balance of your most immediate subordinate?

We all know they won’t get two right and therein lies the problem.

We are in the midst of monumental leadership failure at the senior levels. Just recently [former JCS Chairman] Gen. [Hugh] Shelton testified that he didn’t know we had a readiness problem or pay problems. Can you imagine that level of isolation? We must fix our own leadership problems soon. Quality of life is paid lip service and everyone below the rank of colonel knows it. We need tough, realistic and challenging training. But we don’t need low pay, no medical benefits and ghetto housing. There is only so much our morality should allow us to ask of families. Isn’t it bad enough that we ask the service members to sacrifice their lives without asking their families to sacrifice their education and well being too?

We put our troops on guilt trips when we tell them about how many died for this country and no hot water in housing is surely a small sacrifice to make. “Men have died and you have the guts to complain about lack of medical care for your kids?” The nation has been in an economic boom for damn near twenty years now, yet we expect folks in the military to live like lower middle class folks lived in the mid-fifties. In 1974, a 2nd lieutenant could buy a Corvette for less than his annual salary. Today, you can’t buy a Corvette on a major’s annual salary. I can give you 100 other examples: An NROTC midshipman on scholarship got $100 a month in 1975. He or she still got $100 in 1999. No raise in 25 years? The QOL life piece must be fixed.

The force sees this as a truth teller and the truth is not good. I stayed a Marine despite the erosion of benefits, the sacrifices of my wife and children, the betrayal of our junior troops and the declining quality of life because of great leaders, and the threat to our way of life by a truly evil empire that no longer exists. I want men to stay in the future.

We must reverse these trends. Sacrifices will need to be made and perhaps many things cannot change, but first and foremost we must fix our leadership problems. The rest will take care of itself. If we can only fix the leadership problem.

Then, I still can’t promise you “fun” but I can promise you the reward and satisfaction of being able to look into the mirror for the rest of your life and being able to say: “I gave more to America than I ever took from America, and I am proud of it.”

Semper Fi and God Bless you.

Col. Shaw’s delivered these remarks at his retirement ceremony at MCS Quantico following 28 years of service.



07-21-04, 10:48 AM
WOW. an officer who seems to know his stuff, and SEEMS to honestly care about the men under him. What a concept. Sure seems alot different from any of the career officers I ever knew, who only seemed interested in thier own advancement and the politics of the higher ups.

07-21-04, 12:37 PM
I wouldn't trade a single minute of my time in the Corps but that man hit the nail on the head and it is why I am a civilian now. Not that I didn't have some great leaders, but there were too many "me first officers and SNCO's".

Semper Fi and God bless the Marine Corps

07-21-04, 01:21 PM
D!&n straight Co. Shaw. We need more like you, sir.

07-21-04, 03:04 PM
We come full circle...in 1968 these were some of the same issues that we faced.
Money was a factor but a big factor was seeing so many killed in a war attrition and seeing so many officers lie.
It started at the top with LBJ down to senior officers in the military.
Many senior officer told LBJ, what he wanted to hear, not the truth.
"And the truth shall set thee free."
Even now we might ask;
"What is the truth?"
Someone get rich in Iraq.
At the expense of the troops.
When members of the military have to buy out of pocket.
It tells me, "Something is wrong in the all-volunteer force."
Col Shaw made in when WJC was president.
Recently WJC got an editor of his book to give him a 10 million dollar advance.
What did Col Shaw get for 28 years of faithful service to the Nation?
I bet it wasn't 10 million!
WJC also got the perks of chasing some young interns.
Where is the justice?

Semper Fidelis/Semper Fi

07-21-04, 03:06 PM
Meant to say;
Col Shaw made that statement when WJC was president.

Semper Fidelis/Semper Fi

07-22-04, 10:52 AM
Holy Cow!!!!!!!!!! I cannot believe I just read this. I must say thank you to the good Colonel. I have known only a FEW Marine Officers who care for their men. Most are pushing that career path crap. The need for MSM's and Legion of Merits, while troops were just doing their jobs. And I will not leave out my SNCO brethren. The bug has bitten them as well. You see, he is right. These kids today are smart, well read, and buy into discipline. Those of us raised by WW2 parents had a sense of patriotism sewn into us. These kids of the Clinton era have none. Colleges teach young Officers "idealism" in greater amounts than ever before. Where am I going with this? Colonel Shaw has his finger on THE pulse. We need people like him to stay around. But I'll bet he has been singled out by Generals (like a few in the Corps now) as too sympathetic and not "hard". We don't have to baby the PS2 generation, they got enough of the entitlement mentality already. Instead we need to learn to lead these war-dogs and maximize their talents. I was taught by SNCO's and senior Officers that had ALL been to Viet Nam. My father did 4 tours there. I KNOW what leadership is. Or so I thought. I learned that Corporals spoke with supreme authority and GOD help you if anyone higher got involved. I learned the meaning of "education" by the Gunny. I thought that was leading, teaching, authority. In 1996 I tried to be that kind of SNCO at SOI. The response was failure. No one locked onto that and said "wow, he is a true leader." I thought my mentors were, and they were that way. But today, these kids see it as brutish and will not respond because society has changed. To keep the handle on our Corps, we need to heed the Colonels advice.