Marine Corps isn’t a Form of Punishment

Marine Corps logoThe Marine Corps is a privilege to serve, not an expensive proving ground into manhood for spoiled children.

Judge To Justin Bieber: Join The Marine Corps Or Go To Jail.
It’s too bad this is the choice offered to Justin Bieber. I know when I went into boot camp we had more than one person given this option by a judge. Bad attitudes prevail despite a judge’s ruling.

I see a problem with this type of sentence. The Marine Corps is a professional armed fighting service which shouldn’t be considered an alternative form of punishment. It should always be voluntary. There have been many movies and stories made about the Corps, but here are the facts.

The Marine Corps is made up of all ethnic groups and economic backgrounds and initially, when all of these men or women enter into recruit training, they have no idea how to work together for common survival. You can talk theory all you want, but reality is they must all start from scratch through drill, classroom instruction, physical labor and group punishment when one or more make a mistake.

Chosin ResevoirWhen you come into the Marine Corps, it’s more than about gaining a uniform and bragging rights back home. It’s not a few weeks at an élite club designed to help you become more physically fit, lose weight and gain some personal discipline. It’s about esprit de corps. What is that? In a nutshell it means this; you have to learn how to work together as a team, train, sleep, eat, guard & fight together as your life depends on it, because someday it might come to that. You must have absolute confidence the other person will have your back in every sense of the word. When you fail at your job, no matter what that job is, it doesn’t just reflect on you, it affects all.

The Marine Corps partially failed its mission for several years in the late 1960’s & early 1970’s. It may have trained the men and women to a high degree, but it failed to eliminate the bad from the good. In essence the whole organization standard was set lower because of a few understood, societal problems, which it didn’t overcome when I was in. Number 1, failure to conduct universal drug testing and disciplinary action for those who would not have passed. The 2nd problem I witnessed was one that is an issue people want to argue about on an emotional rather than logical level. That problem was racial. We had many people in the service but for those carrying a large chip on their shoulder about being black, the Marine Corps didn’t treat them in the same way as they did other racial identities. They were allowed in some instances, to be given extra allowance to misbehave. We would see men push the boundaries in small ways, then larger. This created a resentment and sometimes I found myself in the middle of several conflicts within the company.

I had quickly gained rank, after approximately two and a half years in, I was an E-5 (sergeant) and that meant I was given some level of responsibility for the conduct of others as well as myself. I came from a background of mixed nationalities and friendships. This wasn’t always the case for some of the other enlisted. Some came into the Marine Corps with the idea they were going to work the system to their advantage and no one was going to get in the way of their choices. This never sits well for those who wish to be even-handed in their discharge of responsibilities, and that produced conflict.

It’s my understanding, the Marines as an institution have come to grips with the reality in drug testing as well as minimizing preference by race. The thing this judge doesn’t take into account is our nation depends on a very élite and tough cooperative fighting force like the Marines. Introducing a social malcontent and spoiled, famous rich kid into the mix won’t be of much benefit to either the Marines or himself.

If he enters, he should hopefully come to realize he has some big shoes to fill. The Marines who fought in Fallujah, Huế City, Chosin Reservoir, Iwo Jima or Belleau Wood and many other campaigns, fought with distinction, not because they were looking for treasure, fame, conquest or glory, they did it because of their esprit de corps. Many who have served outside of the Marines have also earned their brother and sisterhood by looking out for each other in battle. You don’t prepare to do this sort of thing because you’re punished, but because you have the privilege of serving with others equally willing to fight, bleed and die beside you.

Marine Corps logo

esprit de corps — the effectiveness, willingness of cooperation, mental or moral confidence of a person or group;  and resulting spirit of optimism, confidence, especially in the face of opposition and hardship.

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