General Robert Neller, the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, took a historic step on Thursday evening, demonstrating that no one, not even the senior ranking Marine in the land, is above the rule of order, nor is he exempt from repercussion of his actions.
General Neller posted an image on Twitter of him signing an administrative remarks page, commonly referred to as a Page 11, to be entered into his service record book. Alongside the image, the General wrote, “Just signed my page 11. Online = extension of uniformed presence. Our discipline to orders is what sets us apart.”
According to senior enlisted sources inside the Marine Corps, General Neller has ordered that all Marines have a “Page 11” remark (technically called a NACMV 118 Administrative Remark) entered into their service record books that speaks directly to the behavior expected of Marines when interacting online on social media platforms such as Facebook.
This symbolic step comes on the heels of new guidance that was released by Marine Corps leadership regarding what behavior is considered appropriate for Marines to participate in online.
These moves are all an attempt by Neller and senior Marine leaders to get out in front of the recent scandal surrounding a private Facebook group called, “Marines United.” This group, comprised in large part of Marines and Marine Corps veterans, was compiling and sharing nude images of female service members, sometimes without the subjects of the photos even being aware they had been photographed, and most often, without the women’s consent.
An investigation into the Facebook group led to similar groups being uncovered in other services, demonstrating a service wide cultural issue regarding gender. “Marines United” has since been shut down, but numerous replacements have popped up in the weeks since, often with veterans posing in photographs with their DD 214s (documents representing their separation from service) as a form of mocking the leadership of the very branch they claimed in their title.
General Neller appeared before the Senate Armed Forces Committee to speak to revelations regarding “Marines United” and to offer his thoughts on how best to resolve what appears to be a widespread, and morale crushing, issue.
“I’m not going to sit here and duck around this thing, I’m not. I’m responsible, I’m the commandant, I own this and we are going to have to you know, you’ve heard it before, but we’re going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we treat each other,” Neller said.
Neller also addressed male Marines everywhere, asking them about their female counterparts: “What is it going to take for you to accept these Marines as Marines?”
In the Twitter post, Neller shows, once again, that he’s taking responsibility for the current state of the Corps, and for the efforts to resolve the problem. He even responded to a Marine on Twitter that seemed critical of the General’s decision.
Of course, General Neller isn’t on the hunt for a promotion any time soon, making his gesture a fairly empty one, but his continued effort to be the face of trying to fix this issue demonstrates how seriously he’s taking it – which is perhaps the only positive thing to come of the whole ordeal.
The issue at hand is broad and difficult to pin down, and there are currently more questions than answers when it comes to finding a solution – but if any group can overcome the odds and emerge victorious, it’s the United States Marine Corps.
The more Marines choose to participate in such perverse groups, it might be a good time to start looking for a new line of work.
Here is an image of the Page 11 Remarks being added to every Marine’s record book:
Images courtesy of Twitter