- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
By John M. Dowd
Best Defense guest respondent
The picture you painted of Colonel Desgrosseilliers in your blog is distorted, misleading, and terribly unfair. You ought to pull it down.
It is clear you did not talk to Colonel Degrosseilliers, even though you have been a recent guest at TBS before you published incomplete, stolen information taken entirely out of context from a command climate survey the colonel asked for, participated in, and responded to the way any outstanding commander of Marines would do.
Thus, your readership has been badly misled and the reputations of our finest Marine officers have been defamed by your deficient publication of their leadership. What you fail to understand and failed to convey to your readers is that great commanders instigate surveys to find out what the climate is in their command. Then they act on what they learn and improve the quality of their command. That is what happened at TBS.
I have attached a paper written last summer about the climate at TBS you may find interesting, which paints a different picture.
Further, this month’s Marine Corps Gazette has an editorial by John Keenan and article Col. Desgrosseilliers wrote with Lt. Col. Hoffman about the changes at TBS.
In either event, your portrayal is inaccurate and unfair based upon my personal experience dealing directly with Col. Desgrosseilliers over the past year with a very difficult issue involving one of his officers, Capt. James V. Clement, wrongly accused in the V32 cases. The colonel stood by his captain, lent his combat expertise to the preparation of the defense, and testified as an expert witness at the board hearing — all in the face of superior authority wanting to hang the captain. Through his actions, the colonel was completely and utterly faithful to this fine young captain, even when his entire career and future was on the line. He did not blink because he selflessly did the right thing for a fellow Marine.
His brilliant example during the past year taught those young officers at TBS more about leadership than all the lectures they received for a year. I hope you will demonstrate the same kind of class, and publish this note, or better yet pull down the blog.
John M. Dowd, a former Marine officer, is a lawyer specializing in white-collar defense.