Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller has a stern warning for the Marines involved in the the nude photo scandal that’s rocking the Pentagon: Stop screwing around and do your job.
“If you can't or are unwilling to commit to contributing 100% to our Corps' warfighting ability by being a good teammate and improving cohesion and trust, then I have to ask you: Do you really want to be a Marine?” Neller said in a recorded message released on March 7.
Neller’s message comes amid an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service into a private Facebook group dubbed “Marines United,” which served as a hub for members to share nude and other sexually explicit photos of servicewomen often taken without their consent. The federal investigation was first announced in an investigative news report by Marine veteran Tom Brennan of The War Horse on the website Reveal News.
“These last 18 months, I've spent a lot of time talking to you about how we as Marines must treat each other as members of this warfighting organization with dignity and respect,” Neller said. “Our Corps does not care where you come from, whether you’re rich or poor, whether you’re man or woman, what your sexual preference may be. Only that you have the discipline, drive, and commitment to be a U.S. Marine.”
“When we make a team we are all teammates,” he added. “Brothers and sisters. Marines.”
It’s unclear whether the Marines who participated in the group will heed Neller’s call: After the investigation was published, Brennan, found himself deluged with vile threats from service members for his report exposing the photo scandal.
Read the full text of Neller’s remarks below:
Marines, General Neller here.
These last 18 months, I've spent a lot of time talking to you about how we as Marines must treat each other as members of this warfighting organization with dignity and respect.
I’ve spoken about the effort it takes to earn the title Marine and our families and the nation is proud of who we are and have high expectations of our professionalism and competence.
That our Corps does not care where you come from, whether you’re rich or poor, whether you’re man or woman, what your sexual preference may be. Only that you have the discipline, drive, and commitment to be a U.S. Marine.
That when we make a team we are all teammates. Brothers and sisters. Marines.
That we are seen by our fellow citizens as men and women of honor and virtue, possessing an unbreakable commitment to each other and to the nation.
Unfortunately, it appears that some Marines may have forgotten these fundamental truths and instead have acted selfishly and unprofessionally through their actions on social media.
So let me cut to the chase. When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don't think such behavior is that of true warriors or warfighters.
As warriors, we all know that cohesion and trust within a unit and between Marines is vital to success on the battlefield.
Right now we all need to be focused on getting better, becoming more lethal, working day and night to stay ahead of potential adversaries. Getting ready for the fight today and the one ahead.
Not hiding on social media participating in or being aware of actions that are disrespectful and harmful to other Marines. It's embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation.
Now the only way we have ever solved any problem our Corps has faced is to confront it head on.
So if you believe you are a victim of any harassment or abuse via social media or otherwise, I would ask you to report it to your chain of command, your chaplain or a victim legal counsel.
For our NCOs and staff NCOs I expect that you will support all Marines who report behavior that is prejudicial to good order and discipline including conduct that is degrading to Marines, ensure they are protected from any form of retaliation and do all in your power to prevent harassment or abuse of any Marine or sailor.
For officers, as senior leaders, we will ensure all in our charge understand the rules and regulations on social media conduct, harassment, and abuse... And that they clearly understand its negative impact on good order and discipline.
We will ensure that the investigative process that is ongoing supports the reporting of conduct like this. If changes need to be made, they will be made.
Our legacy is as one of the finest fighting forces the world has known, and I know that the vast majority of Marines take this profession of arms...this calling...seriously and work hard every day to build on that legacy.
You train, you lead, you mentor your fellow Marines to become better warfighters every day. And to you I say, continue to march. I’m proud of you and I will proudly go to war with you tonight.
What we say and do each day represents who we are, and there is no time off for Marines. We are all-in 24/7, and if that commitment to your excellence interferes with your me time or if you can't or are unwilling to commit to contributing 100 percent to our corps' warfighting ability by being a good teammate and improving cohesion and trust then I have to ask you, "do you really want to be a Marine?"
We will get through this if we are all in together. Treating your fellow Marines with the respect they deserve. I need all to be a Marine. To do your job.
We will all need each other in the days ahead.