WASHINGTON — More than 150 members of the North Carolina National Guard gathered in Raleigh this month, with the damage from Hurricane Florence in 2018 still on their minds.
On a 40-foot map of the state, they began moving North Carolina's guard units around like chess pieces, to set the order of battle for the next major storm.
"We go through the timetable of a major hurricane hitting," said North Carolina National Guard spokesman Army Lt. Col. Matt DeVivo. The units looked at preparedness five days out. Then two days out. Then landfall, to see "what will be mobilized, what we lack in capability" and what worked last time, he said.
Last year's hurricanes were particularly destructive for some of the military's most critical bases. In response, active, reserve and National Guard forces have looked at lessons learned to better prepare for this year's hurricane season, which starts June 1, even as they wait for federal funding to fix all the damage from last year.
U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. David J. Furness, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, gives his remarks during the 8th Marine Regiment (8th Mar Reg) change of command ceremony on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 24, 2019. (Photo: Lance Cpl. Ursula Smith)
The commanding general of 2nd Marine Division said in an interview last week that a Marine under his command could have lived through a roadside bombing in Afghanistan if he were wearing his seat belt.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.
Last month the rumor mill was bursting with stories of a Marine (or several) with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, who set fire to part of their battalion HQ. Though Task & Purpose received multiple messages and emails from Marines claiming to be with the Camp Lejeune, North Carolina-based battalion, not much could be confirmed by Corps officials, due to an ongoing Naval Criminal Investigative Services investigation into what we, and other publications, quaintly referred to as a "mystery fire."
Now, we can shed a little more light on what happened. For starters, the Feb. 11 fire is officially "suspicious," according to an NCIS bulletin posted to Camp Lejeune's official Facebook page, as Marine Corps Times' Shawn Snow first reported.