MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
In all my time in the Marine Corps, as short a time as it may be, I can’t recall the number of times I’ve heard some older, higher-ranking Marines say the Marine Corps isn’t what it used to be. They say this new generation of Marines does nothing but complain, they’re too sensitive, don’t like being called devil dog and know nothing of hazing. While there may be some truth to this, has this new generation somehow managed to weaken the image and strength of our beloved Corps? Has our Corps really gone soft?
Over the past several years, there has been a lot of talk about changing how basic training is run, and it’s not just the Army or the Air Force, it’s every branch of the U.S. armed forces. They’re reducing the amount of physical training and yelling because with today’s technology and the types of recruits now going through training, some senior officials feel it’s no longer necessary or effective.
The deliberately harsh introduction to the military lifestyle, screaming drill instructors and rigorous physical training is meant to make service members strong, effective in combat and able to perform in the most stressful of situations. However, people are beginning to believe ever-changing technology lessens the need to be overtly brutal, which is leading to basic training ultimately going soft.
Obviously, these changes they’re trying to implement are highly controversial, most often with those “salty” Marines.
The supervisor of training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, told Time Magazine during an interview that, “We’re no longer the charge-the-beach, stogie-inthe- mouth, cussing, hard-drinking, womanchasing, World War II guy.”
That’s still how America portrays their Marines though. Is it not? If they saw some of the Marines who by some grace of God made it through basic training, weigh a buck-ten and play video games all day, they probably wouldn’t be too confident in our warfighting abilities.
Yes, the Marine Corps is slowly beginning to move in a new direction, but change is good. The only thing negative about the process is those older Marines who are afraid of the change. They say, “Well, that’s not how things used to be. We’ve always done it this way.” Does that necessarily make it right? Does that automatically mean it’s the best possible solution?
Despite the generation gap and changes in the way things are done in the Marine Corps, Marines are still able to effectively lead their troops in war, just as the Marines of the past did, but in a new way. In no way has the leadership and quality of Marines decreased through the years.
On April 22, 2004, Cpl. Jason L. Dunham died in Bethesda, Md., after using his body to shield his comrades from a grenade explosion in Husaybah, Iraq, where he was serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Because of his courageous and unselfish act, Dunham was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
More than 17 Marines have been awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest award given for extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against an enemy of the U.S., for their actions in the war on terror. Pfc. Christopher S. Adlesperger, Lance Cpls. Dominic D. Esquibel, Todd Corbin and Joseph B. Perez, Cpls. Jason S. Clairday, Jeremiah W. Workman, Robert J. Mitchell, Jr. and Marco A. Martinez, Sgts. Scott C. Montoya, Anthony L. Viggiani, Aubrey L. McDade, Jr., Jarrett A. Kraft and Willie L. Copeland, III, Gunnery Sgt. Justin D. Lehew, First Sgt. Bradley A. Kasal, 1st Lt. Brian R. Chontosh and Capt. Brent Morel are some who have received the Navy Cross.
Did they not all display the same leadership traits as John Basilone, Daniel Daly or Smedley Butler? Did they not demonstrate the same core values by which we have always lived by?
We might not be the screaming, vulgarmouthed Marines with some undying need to kill people as the many Marines of the past have been portrayed, but we still follow the traditions that were set before us and we still look to the past for success in the future.
We still have those same core values and leadership traits instilled into our heads and hearts, as proven by our recently fallen comrades, and we are just as loyal to God, country and Corps as ever. That is what is important.
*Editors note: The Iwakuni Approach Staff welcomes commentary submissions. Please submit all commentaries to iwakuni.pao@ usmc.mil or in person at the Public Affairs Office, Building 1 Room 216.