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As snow pounded the capitol Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee convened for the first official hearing on the nude photo-sharing scandal that’s rocked the Department of Defense and cast a pall over the Marine Corps in recent weeks.
Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Ronald Green all appeared before a panel of lawmakers to attempt to untangle the culture of sexism and misogyny that gave rise to “Marines United,” the resurgent 30,000-strong Facebook group at the center of the scandal.
One of the most disturbing revelations from the hearing came from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, who revealed that it’s not just servicewomen but female civilians who have been affected by the predatory coterie of Marines United.
“I spoke to a civilian yesterday who has been continued to been harassed in her community because her ex-boyfriend exploited her online,” Gillibrand said. The senator’s office clarified to Task & Purpose that the civilian’s ex-boyfriend, who was a Marine, exploited her by sharing nude photo in the Marines United Facebook Group.
Two sources, one civilian and one a Marine veteran, had previously told Task & Purpose that many members of Marines Untied actively posted photos of civilian conquests without consent. The veteran alleged that, at one point in the group’s history, a Marine livestreamed sexual intercourse with an unsuspecting civilian directly into Marines United. Task & Purpose could not independently confirm this allegation.
“Who has been held accountable?” a skeptical Gillibrand spat at Neller. “Have you actually investigated or found guilty anybody?”
"I don't have a good answer for you,” replied Gen. Neller. “That's a lame answer."
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia echoed Gillibrand’s fury, questioning Stackley about similar activity in other branches of the military. “I have a hard time believing that this massive sharing … is just limited to this branch … Do you believe this activity is limited to the Marine Corps.”
“No sir,” Stackley responded.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Friday condemned the actions of those involved as “egregious violations of the fundamental values we uphold at the Department of Defense,” pledging that officials would “investigate potential misconduct and to maintain good order and discipline throughout our armed forces.”
Stackley echoed Mattis’ comments during the Tuesday hearing, stating that the Marines United scandal represents a “grievous breakdown of good order and discipline” that amounts to an “insider threat” that undermines the integrity and unit cohesion essential to the Corps.
Both Neller and acting Stackley affirmed that those responsible for the photo-sharing that took place in Marines United and its subsequent iterations would be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, likely under Articles 120 (taking and distributing explicit photos without permission) and 134 (conduct prejudicial to the “good order and discipline” we keep hearing about).
A two-page “White Letter” composed by Neller and obtained by Military.com ordered senior Marine leaders to provide support for victims of Marines United and other photo-sharing groups and “educate” troops on appropriate online conduct. Neller’s letter indicated that an update to the Corps’ 2010 social media guidelines is imminent.
The US military does not need Iraqi permission to provide close air support or evacuate wounded troops in 'emergency circumstances'
The U.S. military does not need Iraqi permission to fly close air support and casualty evacuation missions for U.S. troops in combat, a top spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS clarified on Tuesday.
Army Col. James Rawlinson clarified that the Iraqis do not need to approve missions in emergency circumstances after Task & Purpose reported on Monday that the U.S. military needed permission to fly CAS missions for troops in a fight.
It all began with a medical check.
Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.
It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.
Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.
Thousands of U.S. service members who've been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."
The Pentagon has authorized troops who have deployed to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since last April to receive the Armed Forces Service Medal. Details about the decision were included in a Marine Corps administrative message in response to authorization from the Defense Department.
There is no end date for the award since the operation remains ongoing.
Americans' mighty military may have met its match when it comes to erecting barriers to keep out intruders.
An alligator in Florida recently had zero trouble flopping over a chain-link fence to get onto a naval air base. Motorist Christina Stewart pulled over to film it, and local television station WJAX posted it on Facebook.
Wallace Ward graduated from West Point in 1958. More than 60 years later, at age 87, he's still kicking ass and joining new academy plebes for the annual March Back.