Sunday, February 12, 2012

The SS, Snowflakes, and Supervision


Like a Marine in a properly executed MCMAP training session, the Marine Corps is taking its lumps in the image department lately. In April of last year, Lance Corporal Harry Lew committed suicide in Afghanistan after experiencing sustained hazing on the part of his squadmates. Although there is no way to tell if the hazing caused LCpl Lew’s suicide, it almost certainly contributed to it. The story remains in the news as the Marines involved go through the court martial process. In January, the story broke that Marines, including Staff NCOs, had filmed themselves urinating on corpses of Taliban fighters. I’m not going to comment specifically on these two issues as the failure in ethics is pretty obvious. Anytime a Marine is ostracized in his unit, for whatever reason, the leadership has failed. The desecration of human corpses, whether filmed or not, is indefensible.

I will, however, comment more specifically about the use of the SS logo on flags since there seems to be some debate over whether or not it was appropriate. I’ll ignore the fact that scout snipers apparently think that they are special snowflakes entitled to their own flag above and beyond the traditional scarlet and gold Marine Corps flag that every other unit uses. The first excuse posited by those who want to brush this most recent PR nightmare under the rug is that the scout snipers were ignorant of what the symbol meant. I guess that’s possible. What’s not possible is that every SNCO and Officer in charge of every scout sniper unit that used the flag shared that ignorance. No way. They just refused to do anything about it.

The second, and far less believable excuse is that the SS logo is disconnected from the Nazi ideology and simply a reflection of Marines’respect for German military prowess. Nothing could be further from the truth. The SS were not a military unit. They were a paramilitary unit formed to protect Nazi party meetings from interference, chosen for their loyalty to the Nazi party. A subset of the SS, the Waffen-SS, was tasked with combat operations against Nazi Germany’s enemies, but this does not change the fact that the overall purpose of the SS was the execution of Nazi ideological aims. Even if we were to look to Nazi Germany for inspiration for military prowess, it was the Wehrmacht that achieved blinding military success, not the SS. The next excuse will inevitably be that the Wehrmacht were not Nazis. Again, this is not true. SS units tasked with extermination missions were attached to Wehrmacht units and thus under the command of Wehrmacht officers. Nowhere is there an example of Wehrmacht units interfering with or failing to support the mission of the SS as they murdered their way across Europe. Additionally, it was the Wehrmacht, not the SS, who were responsible for the care and transit of prisoners of war captured by German forces. Millions of prisoners, particularly Soviet soldiers, starved to death or were shot for failing to march out of the forward operating areas fast enough. These POWs, being Russian, were not as human as the German soldiers were after all. Still don’t believe me? I’ll let someone whose vaunted military prowess earned him the rank of Field Marshall in the Wehrmacht, Walter von Reichenau, speak for himself. “The soldier must have understanding for the necessity of the harsh yet just punishment of the Jewish sub humans… He is called upon to achieve two goals. 1) The extermination of the Bolshevik [he means Russians] heresy… 2) The merciless extermination of foreign treachery and cruelty to safeguard… the German Wehrmacht in Russia.” This is not by any means the worst example of Nazism amongst Wehermacht leadership, it was simply the first one I found. To claim that the snipers use the SS logo as a nod to German military prowess in World War II and not as a symbol of Nazism is false. There was no distinction between them then and there should not be now. This is nothing more than an excuse that leaders will use to conceal their moral cowardice when it came to allowing the use of this flag.

My purpose in writing this post, however, is not to lecture misguided defenders of these actions, (OK, maybe that last one was a little bit) but to point out the sickness that these symptoms portend. First, I have to go back to LtCol Grice’s article about socks and supervision. The Colonel’s article seems to describe a trend of over-supervision in the Marine Corps. Most Marines would undoubtedly agree. Some Marines enjoy enforcing the minutiae of our ever expanding array of regulations, the majority of which are irrelevant to wars past, let alone the current wars. This activity, and presumably the memorization of these esoteric regulations, consumed the majority of their time, as has been mentioned on this blog before.
So, if Marines are spending so much time being supervised and increasing centralization is destroying leaders’ ability to make decisions for their own unit, why do events like this keep happening? There’s only one possible explanation. We don’t know how to supervise anymore.

Every Marine has heard the old trope that supervision is the most important step in BAMCIS, but do we know how to do it? It’s more than just ensuring that tasks get accomplished, regulations are adhered to, and Marines are present for duty. If you, as a leader, are not affecting how those tasks get accomplished, which of those regulations are followed, and how Marines conduct themselves when not present for duty, you’re only doing the bare minimum of what is expected of you. If your only method for affecting your Marines as your subordinates is punishment and paperwork, you’ve yet to learn the meaning of leadership. No matter how long you’ve been in.
LtCol Grice’s post and these tragic events that have come to light lately prove that we no longer know how to supervise, lead, and maintain discipline. We’re supervising the wrong things. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to retrain the Marine Corps to fix our supervision problem. It’s a direct result of our culture. Our culture has brought us to the point where we all bear responsibility for these events. Every one of us. Every NCO who is more concerned with knocking out a checklist than mentoring his young Marines. Every SNCO who spends time searching out uniform regulation infractions. Every officer more concerned with paperwork and formats than setting an example. Every Marine, of any rank, who has told a subordinate to “shut up and color” when he or she pointed out that something was wrong. Our acquiescence to a culture of corrosive leadership has created this problem. We allowed leadership to be conflated with the creation and rote memorization of irrelevant regulations. We stopped mentoring and started poor parenting. We allowed bureaucratization to drown professionalism. We fostered a belief that we are special snowflakes who need rules, but not morality. We hazed Lance Corporal Lew. We desecrated human bodies. We posed in front of Nazi symbology. It's our fault that the Commandant has had to publicly apologize for a problem that our poor leadership caused. 

All of these events were a failure of leadership. Every Marine involved knew that what they were doing is wrong, but they did nothing to stop it. This is a problem that a safety standown, more specific regulations, and education about morality and ethics will not fix. We have fostered a culture that takes perverse pleasure in enforcing irrelevant standards while simultaneously ignoring or enabling true misconduct. We’ve fostered a generation of Marines who will look at the picture of the scout snipers and see facial hair, unbloused boots, and hands in pockets before they notice Nazi propaganda. They will quickly condemn failures in appearance but will enable and defend moral failings. They will ignore and allow a Lance Corporal to be hazed and ostracized. They will join in with the desecration of bodies. These are our priorities. But at least the grass around the battalion CP will remain undisturbed by feet clad in identical socks. 

Fix it. 

51 comments:

  1. Are we assuming that one or more of these Marines share the anti-Semitic views held by the Nazis?

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    1. What does that have to do with anything? Anti-semitic views or not, they chose to adopt the symbol of the most appalling evil organization and nation that graced the 20th century, a century not short of appallingly evil organizations.

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    2. It is relevant to determining the type of punishment, if any, and taking steps to prevent similar incidents in the future. If they are anti-Semites, then this is a pretty serious issue. No branch of the military accepts bigotry like that, and parading one's views with an SS symbol, swastika, or other symbol would be a flagrant failure to uphold the Marines basic values. If these guys are simply morons, then that is less serious and can be addressed with more traditional responses, like the flutterkick, the pushup, and everybody's favorite: the log drill.

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    3. Are we now punishing thoughts? It's the deed that ultimatly matters.

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  2. Great post. Someone needed to say something.

    "We’ve fostered a generation of Marines who will look at the picture of the scout snipers and see facial hair, unbloused boots, and hands in pockets before they notice Nazi propaganda."

    On this, I take your point, but you are making it sound as though the facial hair, unbloused boots and hands in pockets are insignificant. There's been a discipline problem growing in the military since these wars began. To a soldier or marine who has been to war a couple of times, a little facial hair or hands in pockets might seem insignificant and petty. But there are standards in place for a reason. If anything, the small discipline infractions in this picture (or throughout the military) should be warning signs of possible more serious misconduct, like the SS flag.

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    1. Facial hair, unbloused boots and hands in pockets are not only insignificant, focusing on these things undermine Marines' abilities to do their job: warfighting. When you're living in farmers' houses in Zaidon or Habbaniyah for 3-5 days at a time, constantly covered with dust and dirt, occasionally tripping into the septic drainage ditches on night patrols, unable to stay clean, shaving can lead to a terrible infection on your neck that will take you out of the fight, needlessly exposing your remaining team members to greater risk. Pockets keep your hands warm. Cold hands hands = poor circulation = loss of fine motor control. You don't want to lose any more motor control than is physiologically unavoidable if you need to react to contact and accurately put rounds on target. Discipline means maintaining all your operational equipment, including your body, your tactical skills (immediate action drills), etc. Rigidly adhering to doctrine that is not only useless but counter-productive is not the kind of discipline war-fighters need.

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    2. Further more, the problem has grown since the wars began because war provides a lethal incentive structure to get your priorities in order. Grooming standards fall in the priorities because they simply do not contribute to 1)survival and 2)mission success.

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    3. As an Army combat vet who has served alongside Marines, I wouldn't pass judgment on that crew based on their appearance. War isn't garrison and good discipline and mission effectiveness isn't always reflected in the shiny toes of one's boots. Nor do I see the incidents mentioned as adding up to a crisis. Bad things happen in combat and men are changed and coarsened by it. Young men also do some stupid things. Two of the three incidents mentioned are bad and dumb but not the kind of thing that shocks the conscience (the hazing, if severe, might; I do not know the full details). I suspect a lot of the outrage over these incidents is coming from a press that is looking for good reasons to help the current Admininstration out of a war it desperately wants to abandon, and a good My Lai narrative (or stoner troops narrative or troops-as-helpless-victims narrative) would help that process along. I hope the Corps keeps perspective and applies ordinary discipline here. These incidents should not become excuses to railroad men in order to appease the media's mock outrage. They can never be appeased and their outrage is always far louder when directed at our own Marines and soldiers, than at our often-barbaric enemy.

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    4. Absolutely agree Jason. These guys don't have a clue, and I garuntee the greatest thing this Don character prides himself in is the fact that he was a DI or maybe even went and failed. Unless you have experience operating in the capacities that these highly trained professionals have day in and day out on several deployments, keep your weak minded thoughts to yourself. Marines like 'Don' are the same as the weak Americans who believe we should disarm America because we have all the security we need. They are the sheep who don't know and don't want to know what dangers are out there and what it really is to fight.

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    5. Marines who join Scout Sniper units go through a rigorous indoctrination and background check. It does not end after you pass the indoctrination. Once you show that you have what it takes to become a Scout Sniper, you are sent to the Basic Scout Sniper Instructor Course where you earn the MOS upon completion of the course. The Marine Corps is all about keeping with traditions. One tradition that you hear about once going to a scout sniper platoon is the branding of the lightning bolt SS upon graduation. I, myself, knew a lot about World War II and the history behind the SS. I have always despised what they stood for. I was never taught that the Scout Sniper SS had anything to do with respecting how the nazi ss faired in battle. We were taught that the Scout Sniper SS were simply letters from the Runic alphabet. The SS stands simply for Scout Sniper. Be as it may, I definately saw the similarity in our lightning bolt SS and the nazi ss. I also did not know how my grandfather might take it as he fought in the European Theatre in World War II. But I was young and wanted to be a part of the tradition, so I did get the brand. I never saw anyone display an SS flag during my time nor did I ever see anyone idealize the nazis. Branding was discouraged by the Corps when I was in but not by the instructors. Presentation of the Hog's Tooth the night before graduation was one way they tried to discourage branding. Most of us got our brands in places that were not obvious. Branding of the SS is an old tradition. Most Marines never knew of it unless they had been in a scout sniper platoon. The exposure that we see today is because of the internet. Young people today, Marines included, don't seem to think before posting pictures and comments on-line for everybody to see and judge. I am not defending their actions. I would never pose before a flag bearing the SS. And I do not know who told them that the Scout Sniper SS has anything to do with respecting the military prowess of the nazi ss. There are many examples of using the same symbols and letters to represent totally different things. We referred to the Scout Sniper SS as "the runes".

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    1. The SS was NOT displayed at the K-Bay school house in 1993, so I do not know how long it has been a part of the tradition/culture of the scout snipers. Maybe the fact that those of us in the Corps in the '80s and '90s still had parents and grandparents that fought the Nazis on one side of the family and were survivors and victems of the concentration camps on the other side, meant that we did not put up with that sort of thing. Maybe it is a generational thing. But regardless, it should not be accepted any more than the fact we would not allow a confederate flag to be part of a units identity. If they need the intials SS so badly, steal the intellectual property from GM's Camaros and Chevell Super Sports.

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    2. Good point. It seems that the fact that the letters SS were in Runic form, the way the German SS displayed it, is what caused the controversy, and not the letters in themselves had they resembled a Latin letter S.

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  4. When I led a tank platoon, I had an ethnically diverse group of Marines who used the term "Jew" for a variety of negative traits. I heard it a couple times before I told one of my offending NCOs, "My girlfriend's Jewish."

    "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't know," he replied.

    "Just don't let me hear it again." I never did; the word must have gotten around.

    In retrospect, I can't say if that was hard or easy. It was simply the right thing to do, and I don't know how generations of officers have allowed scout/snipers to take pride in their unofficial, racist logo.

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    2. Wait, so they stopped saying it because your girlfriend was Jewish? So if you had been dating an Amish girl, would it have persisted? It seems you stopped the behavior, but for the wrong reason.

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  5. A huge part of the problem is Marines are chaffing at what they see as silly policy in the name of PC. These same people push the agenda that what a Marine or Solider does in the off duty hours shouldn't matter.

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    1. There is a balance, but some things should be obvious on which side they fall on.

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  6. It all comes down to discipline or in these cases a lack of discipline. I find the opining about enforcing "silly regulations" as a distractor to the issue. Discipline is discipline. Do what you are told unless you are given an unlawful order. Competent enlightened leadership tempers the enforcement of some of the more innane orders which are in effect and a good sense of humor allows all to drive on. But today, after 10 years of war, the force is all often deciding individually/unilaterally to disobey just "because." This has to stop . . . NOW. Discipline is what has always set us apart from the rest. Now, though I am careful to paint the entire Corps with the same brush, it appears we are not different than the rest. I still think we are different. This can be fixed, not by enforcing silly regulations but by leadership that is engaged and involved with those they lead on why following orders, all orders, is important to our culture. Time to tighten things up and remember what we as a Corps are all about.

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  7. Well written blog. Clear and sensible. Thanks.

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  8. The level of vitriol displayed towards your fellow Marines by many is disgusting. This symbol has been in the Scout Sniper community for decades. I know Marines of African American and Hispanic descent who have SS either tattooed or branded on their bodies. Do you think they identify with Nazism? I don't know what his public stance is but I promise you this, this is not the first time the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (Scout Sniper) has seen those Sig Runes. Do you think he didn't do anything about it until it garnered all this media attention because he's a racist bigot? I don't think so.

    The Marine Corps as a whole has handled this incredibly poorly. The right answer would be to acknowledge that this Symbol has in fact been associated with the Scout Sniper community for decades. It would also be appropriate to acknowledge that it is readily apparent as a result of recent media coverage that any continued use of this symbol to identify Scout Snipers is not in keeping with good order and discipline and is hereby prohibited. I know, personally, Jewish Scout-Snipers. One of whom was an instructor at the Scout Sniper Basic Course. You know why men like that weren't up in arms about this? Because Scout Snipers do not, nor have they ever, associated themselves with the Waffen SS. Just because some of you would clearly like this to be the case so that you can crucify your fellow Marines in the court of public opinion does not make it so.

    Special and unique snowflake huh? You know, I don't see anyone crying about the YATYAS sign on the tracks building in delmar. You ain't tracks, you aint shit right? Things like this are all over the Marine Corps. You know why no one cares about that? Because no one is threatened by it. The inferiority complex associated with these Marines because they are Scout Snipers is pathetic. Quit crying like a charachter on Desperate Housewives and lead your Marines. It's time to keep the faith with your fellow Marines. You know, that pesky little article 4 of the code of conduct.

    Bottom line, it's time for the Sig Runes to go. Time to own up to the stupidity of a decades old IO nightmare. But maybe we should try to do it without turning a bunch of warfighters into war criminals in the process.

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    1. Well said. Time to get rid of the Sig Runes... but the effectual moral abandonment of your fellow Marines by an apologetic attitude is unacceptable.

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    2. Very well said.

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  9. Brett,

    Having spent the day thinking about this, I've reached the following conclusion.

    The Scout Snipers in the picture had the misfortune to be caught displaying a wildly inappropriate symbol, which has apparently been in use, and tolerated, for many decades.

    In general, punishing low-ranking members of any organization for getting caught while acting in accordance with acceptable, long-standing institutional standards breeds justifiable cynicism and disloyalty towards leadership. This seems undesirable.

    Anonymous @8:15pm seems to partially have the right of it. The honest course is to indicate the USMC knew about the symbology, and tolerated it. Which was wrong. That period is over, and woe betide the next socially transgressive semiotician in the ranks.

    The men in the picture have, in all likelihood, served the country honorably in difficult and arduous duty. The failure was with [multi-generational] leadership. Purging them from the Corps is not the right answer.

    If leadership is indeed unable to convincingly articulate to teenagers that the Shultztaffel is not an organization the USMC would ever want to emulate, then in does, as you point out, raise the question as to whether something has gone fundamentally wrong in the officer corps.

    However, I don't think there's enough evidence to support that conclusion. At least yet. You're closer to the problem, though, and may ultimately be proven correct in your assessment.

    Best wishes. I remain hopeful the USMC will pick the correct path out of this current unpleasantness.

    R./
    ZG

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  10. A leader in the RAAF.February 14, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Fine post. 'The truth is, you often know what the right thing to do is, the hard part is doing it'.

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  11. First off, I want to say that I did not call for any of the Marines involved to be punished in anyway. This is an issue with our culture. Culture cannot be changed quickly, we can only recognize this as a problem and change it over time. Nor did I say that issues like the facial hair do not matter. They do, but the priority should the Nazi symbol.

    I keep hearing that this is not an issue because this has been going on for quite some time. I'm surprised I have to say that just because we have always done something means we should always do it.

    I don't think there would still be such debate about this issue if the symbol involved was the swastika. Despite its roots in Buddhist culture, that symbol is now associated with one thing: Nazism. So too the SS symbol. It really has nothing to do with political correctness or offending people. Frankly, I could not care less about that. If nothing else, we should condemn Nazi imagery in honor of the thousands of Americans who died to destroy that regime. Any flag of that regime should never share space with the flag that they fought under, as depicted in the picture.

    The Marine Corps has a long and storied history of victory and prowess in battle. I have every confidence that history will continue long after I'm gone. Let's glorify that instead of an evil regime whose martial abilities pale in comparison to ours.

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  12. I am appalled at the display of the Nazi SS flag by US marines in a photo taken in Afghanistan in September, 2010. Now I have also come to understand that the SS symbol was known to have been used by marines as far back as 2004.

    As the story has so far developed, we are being told that the use of the SS symbol was simply naiveté on the part of those who displayed it. We are told that its use was just a happenstance since it might only be a “homegrown” logo for the marines’ scout snipers, and nothing else. The suggestion is also made that these scout snipers are unaware of the real story of 20th century American History, the story in which my father’s generation defeated Nazism, defeated fascism, and defeated militarism.

    I don’t buy any of this! I believe that what is going on is an example of a plan of systematic infiltration of our armed services by fascist and right-wing social forces, enemies of the Constitution and the American people. And just what might they be planning?

    My father was in the Battle of the Bulge, and honored some years ago for his wartime service by the governor of Florida. His cousin was there on Utah Beach, his brother was in the Pacific Theater. My other uncle was a flight trainer for the Naval Air Corps. Yes, they and hundreds of thousands of others fought to protect our way of life and our rights. They did not fight for fascist indoctrination in the US armed forces. They did not fight for right-wing evangelizing in the armed forces.

    Supposedly, the SS display issue was resolved at the “unit level.” That would suggest to me that no deeper probe was or is in the works. That should not be the case.

    I believe that, to the extent that any superior officer(s) knew of the SS display, even as far back as 2004 and did nothing, let it ride, or kept it at the unit level alone, they must be stripped of rank, and drummed out of the armed forces. May the commander-in-chief do that? I certainly hope so. Those in the armed forces displaying or found to have displayed any fascist logo of any sort ought immediately to be court-martialed, with the courts-martial seeking to strip them of rank and immediately separate them from service. But there is deeper question.

    How far into the ranks of our armed forces have these right-wing and fascist elements burrowed? For the sake of America, this must be determined. And they must all be rooted out.

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  13. I'm not offended by the "SS" symbol at all and I'm Jewish/German (weird, I know). My parents brought me up to be respectful of other people's faith, feelings and beliefs, but also not to be overly sensitive. So far, I've not strayed too far from that philosophy, but I'm a non-theist now too.

    Although I can sympathize with folks who may find the flag offensive, perhaps the feelings of the Nazi's are just too powerful to let go. I heard a preacher say that people must forgive themselves and each other before god can forgive them. I guess these folks either can't or haven't done either and don't believe what god wrote in the bible (Matthew 6:15).

    With regard to Military standards in a war, I can overlook everything the author of this post said was not acceptable if I were their CO, especially if their shabby appearance either helped them get through the day-to-day battle and as Jason posted yesterday. If they had the time and "safety" to look sharp then they should have done so before the photo. Please don't take a sledgehammer to an issues that requires a small knife.

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  14. Sirs,

    I am a Marine veteran whose service included close personal ground combat in RVN (1967-8). Though I am not Jewish, my father and uncles (also USMC) and other family members fought the Germans' Japanese allies in WW II. I know what those symbols are, and as a Marine and as an American, I was appalled. As far as I am concerned, this was "pissing on the graves" of not only the millions of innocent victims of these brutal monsters, but of our fathers and grandfathers of the Greatest generation who dueled with them to the death.

    Though some of those Marines may not have known or appreciated the significance, others definitely do. I have been working on this case for a group, and certain things have become apparent from our correspondence with past and present Scout-snipers. Most knew the original meaning, but claimed they are not Nazis, but used it because it was in use by the Scout-snipers in their time

    Others have stated clearly that they not only knew what the symbols meant, but gloried in their use, expressing the most vile racist and anti-semitic sentiments, denying the Holocaust, and attempting to white-wash the SS, Nazis, and Hitler.

    Some claim their use is a scout-sniper "tradition." If so, it is a "tradition" that came in after my own retirement (1977). I worked beside snipers at Khe Sanh, and I can assure you I never saw any such emblems or heard of their use at that time. In any case, it is a very bad "tradition" and one that should never have begun -- and which must now be definitively ended.

    This is not about "PC." It is about what we as a nation are supposed to represent and do -- and that doesn't include using representations of some of the most horrific murderers in history as logos for US Armed Forces. If this went unchallenged and uncorrected, it would be disastrous for this nation. Words and symbols have meaning, sir. We need to be aware of what those words and symbols mean, and not bring disrepute upon our arms or our nation.

    This is a leadership failure, as well as an educational one. These emblems should never have been selected or allowed. They are NOT official USMC emblems - the only official USMC emblem is the EGA and the only official flags are the USMC Battle Colors, the various Regimental Colors, and the official unit Guidons, which bear the EGA and the name and number of the unit.

    The CMC has issued an order banning all use of this and similar emblems in all Marine units. It may take a while to purge the Marines of this odious symbol and others. While we may never succeed in purging racial and religious intolerance. Nonetheless, it is a goal we should all be striving for.

    Semper Fidelis,

    F. J. Taylor
    USMC (Ret.)

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  15. LCpl Lew needed to be hazed. He was constantly falling asleep on post in very hostile area. If the LCpl's Lew whole squad were to be over ran because of him falling asleep it would be him getting Court Martialed. He was a weak bitch. It is quite obvious that this Brett Friedman is BOOT POG that doesn't know what it feels like to lay on you ISO mat at night and wonder if you are gonna be killed in my sleep because the person on post is a weak bitch. And for Christ sakes the reason why Scout Snipers use the SS flag is pretty simple. SS=Scout Sniper. They have no other connections.

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    1. Yes they do 2/8 Marine. It's the very fact that the letters S are in Runic form. If they were written in Latin form it probably wouldn't even be an issue.

      Former 3/8 Marine.

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    2. The only connection is visual. I got the brand just as my instructors before me did. Including one very dark green instructor. We saw nothing racial about it.

      Former 1/8 Marine.

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    3. Hazing often has a double meaning, punishment and assault. It is maybe intended to teach a young Marine a lesson, but more often than not, it is a codeword for sanctioned physical assault. I remember DIs trying to recount the Corps policy on hazing to us recruits, but it came out all wrong everytime and always made me wonder what they were really saying. I remember hazing being used against junior Marines and it quickly getting out of hand and NCOs beating the shit out of said Marine because of the mob mentality that is so present in the military.

      Whatever happened to Lcpl Lew has more of a backstory than we know, and its safe to say his fellow Marines let him down, showing their true character.

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  16. I believe that we need to re-read the preface by Brute Krulak in the book "First to Fight." When charged with a the task of writing 'Why does the US need a Marine Corps' by the Commandant, Brute responded simply and eloquently, "the US does not need a Marine Corps, the US wants a Marine Corps." Further in the preface he states that "by carelessness and an inordinate attention to less important things we can lose those characteristics of lean professional simplicity and unfailing preparedness...which makes the Marines one of America's treasures."
    The more bad press the Corps gets in regard to careless errors in judgment and warfighting, the more vulnerable it becomes to a negative public opinion and congress.

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    1. Bless your heart. Prepositions and articles are free; please use them as often as you like. The spelling MCI is too. Haze yourself.

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  18. My comment: Just north of Nasiriyah we had stopped a civilian vehicle that was making its way toward/through our area. An idiot Cpl. forced them all out, put their faces in the dirt, and left a 2 year old child unattended in the vehicle. The child began to cry, and this idiot Cpl. starts yelling at the kid to shut-up... in English. So now this kid is absolutely terrified, the mother is begging for her child, and the whole ridiculous bullshit nonsense finally stopped when I finally got the balls to tell that Cpl. to shut the fuck up and get those people back in the car. I was an Engineer. He was a grunt. I had just crossed so many lines I quickly lost count. The next day the Staff Sgt. had me do the same to another pair of grunts using civilians as "training opportunities". They ignored me. I gave them fair warning. Then they got slammed by a higher rank. Morally policing idiot grunts was the worst part of the job.

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    1. ...and no Marine should ever done the symbol of an avowed enemy of the United States of America. What's next, using Taliban symbology in unit flags? Give me a friggin' break. Any idiot who wishes to use Nazi symbology while wearing a United States uniform needs a history lesson, an oral period of instruction by a World War II veteran, and a sense of honor.

      "Honor, Courage, Commitment": it's not just a slogan.

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    2. There are some idiots out there but be careful characterizing all grunts as idiots. The infantry is the backbone of the Marine Corps and every MOS has their 10%.

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  19. It's great the everyone here knows Nazi symbolism, but I only learned about the SS symbol relatively recently. I'm college-educated and well-read. I read quite a bit on WWII as a kid and I love military history. White power emblems just weren't a part of my upbringing. So while I agree that the SS emblem should probably be removed (for IO's sake, not because I think you can't appropriate someone else's symbol and make it your own), I think the raging about this is ridiculous. The snipers probably didn't know. And if they did, they probably only saw it as an un-PC reference to a badass military unit. I'm not in love with battling "political correctness" because I think some sensitivity is clearly the right thing to do. But the modern Marine Corps is so obsessed with ridiculous things that all orders seem frivolous. Stop giving frivolous orders, and you'll see more of your orders obeyed.

    For example: mandatory haircuts and shaves, while deployed, are unforgivably stupid. Every week, while deployed, I had to subject myself to the risk of lice from unsterilizable clippers because some idiot thought that haircuts mattered. Marine regulation haircuts look stupid anyway; when they're done by amateur barbers there is absolutely no value. They don't look professional, or neat, or anything else. Shaving makes you less respectable to Afghan men...yet somehow, for the sake of "professionalism" we were expected to make it harder for ourselves to win the war. What kind of fool tries to make it hard to win a war, because of their own vanity? I was taught that the only unfair fight is one you lose. So a Marine should kick the enemy in the balls, gouge out his eyes, and bite his face off, for the sake of victory -- which is all that mattered. But yet, in today's Marine Corps, the vanity of certain SNCOs and officers is ranked as more important than victory. Unforgivable. The number of friends I have (including many decorated for valor and with "critical skills") streaming out of the Marine Corps as a consequence of this foolishness should be a warning. But instead, those who make policy just think that a bunch of uniform regulations and imaginary "traditions" should be the Corps' #1 priority.

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  20. How about anything with an eagle or the Skull and Crossbones? What about anything with a sickle in it (assuming you can get past your personal hang-ups and recognize that their has been at least 1 worse ideology than Nazism)? The cross was carried by Crusaders who massacred their fair share of innocents (maybe because they did it in God's name makes it ok)?

    At the end of the day someone just needs to nut up and stop caving into every person that is 'offended' (easily the best way to identify a weak-minded person).

    Interestingly enough, the logo of the United States Cyber Command also has a lightning bolt. As does the 55th Intelligence Support Squadron. And a slew of other units.

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  21. The use of SS by Scout Snipers. I am not sure when the first use of the SS symbol was used by Scout Snipers but I can tell you that in 1997 all the HOGs in my unit had SS brands. From my recollection, it didn't seem to be a newly founded tradition, rather something that had been done for sometime. The PIGs in the scout sniper platoon aspired to get through school so they too would rate the brand. Again, this was not a new tradition in 1997.

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  22. Unless you have been through the hardships it takes to be a sniper, or have experienced the mental stress they go through, you have no say in the matter. Someone who writes a paper for the marine corps obviously has no idea what scout snipers endure day in and day out. And snipers prefer their own flag to seperate themselves from the pogs who Brag about being a marine But don't deserve the title.

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  23. Anonymous, with that said, then there shouldn't be civilian oversight of the military. If someone hasn't been a Marine, then they should have no say in Marine matters, therefore no one should be the Secretary of the Navy without having been a Marine.

    Except civilian oversight exists for the sake of balance. Just like we need more than just snipers or grunts in the Marine Corps. How would you get to where you're going without helicopter pilots? How would you eat without logistics officers? How would you win a war without the entire Marine Corps/Department of Defense Machine?

    It is a bad joke to think you can do anything alone.

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  24. I'll tell you what I know-- as a leader of Marines, if one of mine had an SS rune tat showing-- it'd be removed before he was ever seen in PT gear again.

    I don't care what a scout sniper has been through or what his affiliations are-- he is a Marine first, sniper second. The Corps is represented positively in American minds because we don't tolerate bullcrap like this. From PFC on up to the Commandant, we are professionals and we ought to act like it.

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  25. This guy for next commandant?

    He is 100% right, and we all know it. This Marine Corps is more about appearance and regulations then the reason and meaning of what a Marine is supposed to be all about.

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  26. This debate is pointless. They used a symbol that was used by a group of people who exterminated 6 million people on an industrial scale. People who wore that logo committed horrendous crimes against humanity. If Scout Snipers want a logo that they can call their own then more power to them. But maybe they should steer clear of one that represented the Shutzstaffel. Lastly if you think your training and experiences gave you the right to wear the "S.S." logo I suggest you read up on what happened at places like Dachau or Treblinka and see if your experiences compare to their experiences. Better yet go wear that flag in Israel and see what they think. Go find an old Israeli with a number tattooed on their forearm and ask what they think of your "S.S." flag. Lastly if the Marines in the unit were ignorant to the symbol's meaning then that should be a wake up call about our education system and national focus on history. I doubt a European unit with the name "scout sniper" would use such a symbol out of ignorance to its meaning. Why should be different?

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  27. I stopped reading at "indefensible". Obviously the writer is a fiction writer and this is real world stuff.

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  28. Redicuousness reigns. This is more extreme politcal correctness. People like this writer won't be happy until we are all homogeneous, cookie cutter, bland, robot like killing machines that can be switched on and off at a whim. He obviously looks with disdain at Marine Corps history... because it is filled with stories of pushing limits of structure and decorum. My guess is he would not find it tasteful to sit at Chesty Pullers table and swap war stories. But he'll use the "this is the 21st century and we have to grow up" argument. BS. If seeing the SS flag bothers you look away. If pissing on a bunch of the enemy is worse than putting a bullet threw their heads is more disgusting to you then I suggest you see a shrink and leave the front line boys alone.

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  29. The main issue he talks about is lack of quality leadership and more concern about regulations for uniforms and filling out papers some certain way than mentoring of Marines by NCO's and SNCO's. Personally I agree completely and will add that many others hinder attempts to properly mentor junior Marines. It doesn't work and the evidence has been plastered all over the news. All I heard while I was in is that Marines never cheat steal or lie-i saw all 3 happen several times as well as get encouraged at times. Ignorance is bliss- just because you don't want something to be wrong and believe everything is the way it should be does not mean that it is. When the majority of leadership in the Corps finally figures that out and tries to truly better their fellow Marines and themselves maybe we will see an improvement- if not then we will see worse and worse headlines about Marines doing stupid Immoral and disrespectful things that end up in the news. SEMPER FIDELIS

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