View Full Version : Step up for the Marines

04-24-06, 08:20 AM
Step up for the Marines
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service

The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Friday, April 21:

No service branch shows more respect for tradition than the U.S. Marine Corps does, which makes it all the more ironic that tradition denies the corps an important show of respect: Equal billing with the other service branches.

The Continental Congress ordered "two Battalions of Marines" to be raised in 1775 as landing forces for the Navy. The Marines have remained within the Navy on government organization charts ever since, even though the corps functions through wartime and peacetime as a separate branch in every other way.

Like the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Marine Corps has its own command structure. Its commandant holds equal status with other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which happens to be chaired for the first time by a Marine, Gen. Peter Pace.

Several Marine veterans and supporters have launched an online petition drive to support a bill proposed by Rep. Walter B. Jones. The North Carolina Republican, whose district includes Camp Lejeune, wants to fix the matter simply by changing the Department of the Navy to the "Department of the Navy and Marine Corps."

Jones has twice passed similar measures in the House with bipartisan support, but the Senate was cool to them. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, veteran and former Navy secretary, has promised "fair consideration" for the legislation. That's Senate-speak for a reluctance to commit. His reluctance seems to be rooted in a sense of tradition. But sometimes its good to break with tradition. The War Department, for example, became the Defense Department after World War II. The Army Air Corps was elevated in 1941 to the Army Air Forces and in 1947 to the autonomous Air Force.

The Marines have not asked for complete autonomy. Nothing structurally needs to change in their relationship with the Navy, which has served both branches well. The corps only asks for recognition. Having served their nation proudly and courageously since colonial days, the leathernecks have earned a promotion.