View Full Version : Another Open Letter to LTG Sattler

05-03-05, 05:24 AM
Another Open Letter to LTG Sattler

By David H. Hackworth

Lt. Gen. John E. Sattler

Commanding General,

I Marine Expeditionary Force

RE: March's "Hack's Target" column concerning the mistreatment of Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Marines who'd completed active-duty tours and then re-upped to get shot at in Iraq as replacements under your command ("Open Letter to a Marine General," DefenseWatch, March 21, 2005).

Regarding your response to that column, thanks for the kind words about my service and your ooh-rah for my and Soldiers for the Truth's "concern for our young men and women who wear the uniform."

Of course, I know your own reputation as a straight shooter who shares our concern for the troops. But frankly, general, some of your flunkies are blowing smoke and lots of it up your cammie trousers.

You state that your staff took an "impartial, matter-of-fact look into the unit's promotions" and found only "administrative discrepancies."

You ask, "Did we find evidence of malice and unfair promotion practices directed at Marines who selflessly volunteered to return to active service when their country called?" Your answer: an unqualified "Absolutely not!"

You are therefore being sent the names/billets of two of the principal unprincipled staff noncommissioned officers who were derelict in their duty to make sure the IRR Devil Dogs were welcomed aboard as full-fledged members of the "Band of Brothers" instead of being treated like Cinderfellas.

And I'm sure you'd agree that any inquiry truly in search of the truth would at the very least include interviews with the alleged victims. Yet out of a half-dozen IRR troopers, not one was questioned. And they don't think any of the others were, either.

So here's hard evidence to support the premeditated malice that's been going down on your watch: Within the past two weeks, one IRR Marine went to the S-3 office of 3rd LAR [Light Armored Reconnaissance] Battalion and easily located a copy of his company's Physical Fitness Test administered before the battalion deployed to Iraq, including his name and score. A score that the company first sergeant claimed didn't exist accounting for the "zero" carried in the official record. Malicious? Well, no Marine can be promoted without a current PFT score.

You make the point that your inquiry "found no plausible motive for anyone within I MEF [First Marine Expeditionary Force] to sabotage the promotions of IRR Marines. There is no connection between promotion allocations and cutting scores for reserve personnel."

Yet a company first sergeant called a meeting in Iraq solely to share his intent that none of the Reserve Marines in his company would be promoted on his watch because such promotions would count against the quotas for "real Marines." And even after an affected Gyrene researched the promotion policy and tried to tell the first sergeant there was absolutely no connection between regular and IRR promotions, his righteous words fell on deaf ears.

Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, commander of Marine Reserve Forces, also read my column and had his staff review "the entire IRR promotion system." According to Col. Bob Braithwaite, Gen. McCarthy's chief of staff, this review uncovered that "some individuals, particularly those activated and deployed in support of GWOT [Global War On Terrorism], may not have been given proper consideration for promotion due to administrative oversight. The unintended consequences of a new policy intended to increase promotion opportunity for our IRR Marines unfortunately resulted in some administrative confusion that appears to have temporarily penalized some of those Marines. We are taking proactive measures now to rectify those issues and will take care of our Marines."

I urge you to follow his example and order another, more formal inquiry, particularly since these fine young warriors say they're committed to making sure that any Reserve Marines who follow them don't get the same short end of the stick.

As one of these stouthearted truth-tellers put it: "My first four years of active duty were with two battalions whose leaders went out of their way to help their Marines get everything they deserved to get, while 3rd LAR went out of their way to screw with us." Another says: "This is just the tip of the iceberg. It's one stinking abuse after another in this unit."

Apparently, your palace guard is telling you only what it thinks you want to hear and meanwhile those bad-apple sergeants are still wearing the Eagle, Globe & Anchor. For sure, some "remedial instruction" in Marine leadership is needed. Hopefully you are just the Marine general to make it happen.

Semper fidelis,


Eilhys England contributed to this column.


Phantom Blooper
05-03-05, 07:53 AM
I know General Sattler personally. He graduated the year before me at a rival high school outside Pittsburgh,Pa.. I sometimes agree with Col. Hack,but most of the time I don't. Hack has no concept of what is going on behind the scene other than what his media cronies report. General Sattler commanded the 2nd MARDIV until this assignment a few years ago. If there is something that needs to be taken care of he is that man. Hack has NO right as an army colonel(retired) to close with his salutation of Semper Fidelis. He is a decorated veteran and for this he deserves respect. However,he is sitting behind his BMD (Big Mohogany Desk) with an opinion and not on the lines. His best bet would be to stay behind the desk and leave the Marines alone and continue to report on Washington,DC happenings. Semper-Fi! "Never Forget" Chuck Hall

05-03-05, 08:35 AM
I think I end up somewhere between the two here. With respect to Col. Hackworth and the Staff Sergeant, I submit my own $0.02:

I've heard extremely mixed reports of how reservists get treated once they're augmented to active duty units. As a reservist, this is of particular interest at the moment (even though I'm not IRR), esp. since we are ramping up to another trip across the pond. I've heard from Marines in my unit various stories, most of which are good, regarding how they're recieved. Of course there's always the "FNG Syndrome" which is an expected condition, but that's not the same as what's being alleged above.

One of the problems that comes with the territory of being a reserve Marine is that once you are deployed to the active forces, many times you do not maintain unit integrity. You are augmented piecemeal, as may be needed by the operating forces already in place. This is all well and good, but a casualty of this is that you no longer are working day in and day out with the same leadership that you have been for possibly years prior to deployment- you no longer have "your" NCOs and SNCOs looking out for you as junior Marines, and, while I can't speak with authority to this point, I'm going to assume by extension that if you're a SNCO, it is a similar issue with relation to officers. This can produce an environment that is less than ideal and can be detrimental to morale if your new leadership does not believe that you belong there.

By converse, a Marine should, optimally, be judged by his abilities. I know a particular SSgt that threw an active duty Sergeant out of his HMMWV and told him to give his radio to the LCpl reservist because that particular Sergeant didn't know how to do his job, and that reservist did. It's as simple as that.

Either way, IF it indeed happened that the 1st Sgt in question held a meeting like the one described above, that is, at the very least, extremely poor leadership insofar as that it was unnecessary and detrimental to unit morale... we're all Marines, and that's the end of that.

"Judgement Justice Dependability Initiative Decisiveness Tact Integrity Enthusiasm Bearing Unselfishness Courage Knowledge Loyalty Endurance" - Which ones of these aren't showing up here?

05-03-05, 08:56 AM
Yes Lt Gen Sattler is a good man. When I was at 2d CEB he would come down and run PT with us almost every Friday.......He loved engineers..............