View Full Version : A Retired Marine Colonel

12-29-02, 10:43 AM
There's an awful lot of wisdom here; read on. These words were spoken &quot;extemporaneously&quot; and recorded at an informal farewell for retiring Marine Colonel. <br />
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In recent years I've heard many...

12-29-02, 10:44 AM
The Grunts and other combat arms guys aren't here for the "training and skills" either. 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. You bet that Tommy sees... 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 result 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 bragging, and 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 barmaid 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. One 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 servicemember 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 Hummvee?
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 NY times best seller list.
6. Who won the last Superbowl?
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? Where does he live?

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 the CJCS 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 Col. 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 Lt. 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 $150 a month in 1975. He or she still gets $150 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. There will be a new "evil empire" eventually. 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 in the mirror for the rest of your life and say: "I gave more to America than I ever took from America...and I'm proud of that." Semper fi and God Bless you all!

By A Retired Marine Colonel