Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Hey, the commandant’s mystery reliefs are freaking out us Marine officers

By "A. Marine Officer" Best Defense guest columnist 1/9 CO likely deserved to be relieved. The Div CG relieved the battalion commander, the company commander, and the battalion gunner (a chief warrant officer weapons expert). Gunners are responsible for weapons training and employment advice. I haven’t heard a peep about the investigation, but it stands ...

MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images
MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images
MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images

By "A. Marine Officer"

Best Defense guest columnist

By "A. Marine Officer"

Best Defense guest columnist

1/9 CO likely deserved to be relieved. The Div CG relieved the battalion commander, the company commander, and the battalion gunner (a chief warrant officer weapons expert). Gunners are responsible for weapons training and employment advice. I haven’t heard a peep about the investigation, but it stands to reason that if the Gunner went down, it was an ammo handling issue. If it was a training issue such as safe ammo handling, the CO has to go, and I’m cool with that.

The problem is that there is ZERO fricking information coming out of HQMC explaining ANY of this stuff. Nobody knows what to make of it, so nobody knows how to tighten up their units. That feeds conspiracy theories and loss of confidence in leadership because their actions start to look random and unprincipled. Everyone is cool with a CMC when he fires a commander who screws up — DUI, banging a sergeant, etc. Everyone knows the deal. These mystery reliefs are harder to stomach. Amos doesn’t know it, but he OWES us an explanation as to why he’s firing O5s and O6s and hasn’t cut a general officer loose on his watch yet. That Gurganus is still drawing a paycheck makes my blood boil.

I really earnestly and truly believe Amos is losing the faith of the Marine Corps. There isn’t much support for him that I’ve heard. People see him flailing and taking folks down with him, not being intellectually honest, not having a whole lot of good ideas or success. His resignation would be good for the service. Paxton could ascend to the service chief level, they could find some suitable aviator (Guts Robling, perhaps?) to be ACMC, and all would be right with the world again. When Dunford is done at ISAF, they can either make him the chairman or move him to an open COCOM like SOUTHCOM if the timing lined up. Dunford is the heir apparent as CMC but a COCOM job would suit him better, I think. I’d follow Dunford to hell. I’m agnostic about the rest, but both Paxton and Robling have good reputations.

"A. Marine Officer" is just that. This article does not necessarily represent the views of the commandant of the Marine Corps, the Navy Department, the Defense Department, or the U.S. government. But ask a battalion or regimental commander what they think.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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