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thedrifter
02-19-03, 02:44 PM
Major General C. L. Stanley and
Cpl. Anthony L. Aragues
MCAGCC Commanding General and
Communication and Date Directorate computer specialist


I quote from a young Marine, Corporal Anthony L. Aragues, who happens to be a computer specialist, and I ask you to think about the "mentality" he describes and the implications of such thinking upon the efficiency of our Navy and Marine Corps team.

"During the latter half of 1996, as a Marine Corps poolee, I often went to the gym to get into shape for the challenges ahead. One day I ended up talking to a former Marine about my going into the Corps. He was obviously a grunt, with '0311' tattooed under a display of skulls and snakes. When he eventually asked me what my MOS would be, I responded with pride, '4066, small computer systems specialist.' He immediately dropped the weights he was curling, gave me a long look of disgust, and didn't want to talk to me anymore. He is not the only Marine who feels this way about computers, new technologies, and the people who work with them.
"Nearly half of the Marines I fix problems for tell me 'I'm not a computer person.' In my opinion, we can't afford to hide behind an 'I don't know' attitude. The Marine Corps is downsizing. A computer cannot replace a hard charging Devil Dog, but it can help each Marine do more. Nearly every job can benefit from the aid of computers, but two things are required: knowledge and security. People typically regard computer knowledge in one of two ways, either you have it or you don't. From my perspective, it seems more like 'you learn it or you fall behind.'"

Corporal Aragues is telling us, in no uncertain terms, that too many of us "just don't get it." Not only do we lack sufficient knowledge about computers, but many of us also have the wrong attitude about them.

Cpl. Aragues is also speaking on behalf of thousands of Marines and Sailors whose jobs find them in critical billets, but often far behind the front lines. Their jobs are important; and, get this, they want to serve, will go in harm's way and will willingly put their lives on the line to serve in combat.

Surely, some of our saltier, more experienced Marines and Sailors have heard terms of endearment like "office pogues" and "geeks" when referring to some of our rear-echelon troops whose jobs require them to support those on the front lines. All of us are important for success in battle, but a few of us think less of some incredible shipmates just because they serve in a supporting role. We can't afford to do this.

Even more significant, we display an amazing level of immaturity and arrogance when we convey to others that what they're doing isn't nearly as important as what we're doing.

Cpl. Aragues goes on to tell us how such obtuse thinking could lead to bigger problems, problems that have the potential to affect everyone right now.


"During a Threat Condition, our military police check the IDs of every individual entering the base. Password authentication is our best way of checking your ID and allowing you 'base access.' Using someone else's password is like showing PMO a fake ID. Every Marine that freely distributes their password is a weak link in our security. So is every Marine who uses words like 'Marine,' 'USMC,' 'Security,' and other easy to guess passwords. I have seen passwords printed nicely on a sticker, and stuck to the monitor reading 'Password = devil dog.' I always inform these people of their horrible lack of security. The response I usually get is, 'There's nothing in there worth protecting.' Marines need to realize that the passwords aren't there to protect personal privacy. They're there to keep unauthorized people out of our communications network. We must realize that what we have access to is not just an email box. It's a tool, it's a weapon, and it's invaluable to the Marine Corps."
Marines like Corporal Aragues are often gaffed-off, but doing that only hurts us. His example about compromised security only scratches the surface of a very serious problem. Ignoring Marines and Sailors who have invaluable contributions to make solely because they are in support jobs, which are often viewed by many of us as "unimportant," is wrong!

We need every Marine and Sailor to be successful. All are invaluable to our Nation. Each and every one of our servicemembers is capable of making significant contributions. While I won't argue the basic premise that we must have those who will execute our combat missions in the face of the enemy, I will argue this: those combat missions are inextricably linked to reach-back systems, and the link grows everyday. Computer operators and other support personnel such as administrators, doctors, corpsmen, mechanics, etc., are all essential for success in combat. Don't be guilty of thinking that you're better than someone else. Your particular specialty does not make you any more "Marine" or "Sailor."

We are a team.

Semper Fidelis!!



The Drifter