The Marine Corps is changing its online training after this 'nonsense' slide drew ridicule on social media

Um ... what? (Twitter/Virginia Jones)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Marines are known to take to social media to make fun of some aspects of life in the Corps, but in one recent case, it's affecting change.

Virginia Jones, a former sergeant who served as a meteorological analyst forecaster, recently saw a screenshot of a question from the MarineNet Career Course staff sergeants. The course is required for promotion to gunnery sergeant.

Marines are presented with a scenario as part of the course's values-based leadership lesson — and in this particular question, there was a lot happening. There were references to a marriage between a corporal and a sergeant major, a maintenance department preparing aircraft for a deployment, an awards ceremony, and a group of drunk sergeants being arrested by Japanese police.

At the end, Marines are asked whether the married corporal and sergeant major serving in different chains of command could affect good order, discipline, morale or authority. The photo accompanying the question is a picture of a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Jones tweeted the photo with the question, "who ... made ... this ... training ..."

"If I was taking the test, I would have no idea how to even answer the question because I don't know what it was actually asking," Jones said. "It was poorly constructed and littered with nonsensical points. The irrelevancy of the first sentence, the mental gymnastics throughout the rest of the paragraph, and the answer being a picture of a NAM was illogical."

She wasn't alone in feeling confused. One person described the scenario as "galaxy brain nonsense." Another said they read it three times and still didn't understand the point.

Now officials at Training and Education Command are changing the course.

"This course will be reviewed as a result of this deficiency being brought to our attention," 1st Lt. Sam Stephenson, a TECOM spokesman, said. "This scenario will be removed from the content by the end of November 2019 and all scenarios and content will be reviewed and updated in early 2020."

The point Marines were meant to take away is that even apparent preferential treatment resulting from a relationship between Marines of different paygrades can negatively affect good order and discipline, Stephenson added.

But the scenario needs to be revised for several reasons, he said.

"One: It can imply that the Marines were drinking because of apparent favoritism or worse that the apparent favoritism might excuse their actions. That was never the intent," Stephenson said. "There are several issues included within the scenario that could foster further discussion. Without an instructor present to facilitate discussion to ensure that the correct lessons are learned, Marines are left to draw their own -- and possibly incorrect -- conclusions."

Jones said she's thankful the Marine Corps is making the revision, but said the question never should've been included in a professional military education course at all.

"Everyone along the line is responsible, including everyone who saw this training slide and silently questioned it instead of bringing attention to it," she said. "Accountability is preached day in and day out in the military, yet none was held for this situation until now."

She also took issue with the way the female corporal was depicted. The scenario described her as squared away and performing her job well, but added that she didn't socialize with other noncommissioned officers. And her behavior and award appeared to influence the sergeants' bad behavior.

"How is the Marine Corps supposed to change their societal culture of toxicity against women if staff NCOs are being implicitly taught to harbor resentment against them for consensual relationships, not being chatty enough, or earning awards?" Jones said.

MarineNet courses for enlisted personnel are developed by officials with the Enlisted College Distance Education Program in Quantico, Virginia, Stephenson said. Subject matter experts are hired to develop content and assessments.

The goal is to assess the courses every two years, he said. The content in this particular course hadn't been reviewed in four years.

Jones said leaders need to be more mindful of the information presented to Marines.

"It fueled military biases. It did not actually educate anyone. It was poorly written, reviewed and distributed," she said. "If training is being handled in this manner at a high level, then how is it not expected to bleed to lower levels?"

This article originally appeared on

More articles from

U.S. Army Rangers resting in the vicinity of Pointe du Hoc, which they assaulted in support of "Omaha" Beach landings on "D-Day," June 6, 1944. (Public domain)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Read More Show Less
(Associated Press photo)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.

Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."

"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.

Read More Show Less

On a military base, a black flag is bad news. That means it's too hot outside to do anything strenuous, so training and missions are put off until conditions improve.

As the climate changes, there could be plenty more black flag days ahead, especially in Florida, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found. America's military bases could see an average of an extra month of dangerously hot days by mid-century. In Florida, they could quadruple.

Pentagon data shows heat-related illnesses and injuries are on the rise in every branch of the military. Last year, nearly 2,800 troops suffered heatstroke or heat exhaustion, a roughly 50 percent jump from 2014.

"I think most of us, if we hear there are tens of thousands of cases of heat stress in our troops every year, our minds would go to where they were deployed," said Kristy Dahl, a senior climate scientist at UCS and the lead author of the study. "But more than 90% of the military cases of heatstroke happened right here at home."

Read More Show Less
In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.

The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.

Read More Show Less

An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.

This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.

Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."

Read More Show Less