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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The U.S. military, and particularly the Marine Corps — in which I served both as an enlisted Marine and officer — puts a strong emphasis on leadership. Marines are taught leadership traits and qualities and are expected to exhibit them at nearly every level.
During my three decades of service, I saw good and great leadership, poor leadership, and toxic leadership. Nearly everyone in the military knows what toxic leadership looks like, even if they haven't experienced it directly.
Unfortunately, our commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump, exhibits the qualities of a toxic leader.
Editor's Note: The following op-ed is written by an active-duty Marine aviator. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
"Lat[eral] moves for [all aviators] to become a MARSOC [Special Operations Officer] are not being approved" at this time, the email from the Monitor said, adding that "[Inter-Service Transfers] for [any aviator] to any branch, to include the USCG, are not being approved [at this time]."
The email was just the latest restriction on aviators, and the next round of Headquarters Marine Corps' (HQMC) ineffective strategy for dealing with a critical shortage of company grade aviators in the Marine Corps.
The Air Force has garnered most of the attention regarding pilot shortages over the past few years, but it's hardly unique to their service, as the entire military is struggling to keep its aviators in the midst of an airline hiring frenzy and a strong economy. For years, the pilot shortage was attributed to Obama-era sequestration, aging platforms, and a lack of sufficient flight time.
But there is a more significant contributor to this shortage: mismanagement of pilots due to unwritten rules of the aviation promotion system.
Unfortunately for the Corps, company grade aviators catch on to these rules early, and flight school cannot produce enough new pilots to balance the inevitable exodus of captains. If this exodus is not effectively addressed, our ability to fight from the air could be critically compromised in a way that will take decades from which to recover.
There are all sorts of reasons why the U.S. military enlisting 16 year olds (which means actually recruiting them at 15, 14, even 13 years old) is a bad idea.
Just to name five:
On Friday, I will attend the solemn ceremony at Northwestern University in which Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps students will take the oath to become members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. As both a faculty member and graduate of Northwestern, I try to attend each year as these outstanding young people commit themselves to a life fraught with potential danger in service to our country. They have earned and deserve our solidarity and support.
Almost 50 years ago, as a Northwestern undergraduate, I was arrested for damaging the NROTC offices during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration. At the time, many of us believed that NROTC contributed to the war effort, and therefore had to be removed from campus.
As a leftist then and now, I have no qualms about admitting to my errors, one of which was a wholesale misunderstanding of the importance of the ROTC program — Army, Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force — on college campuses.
'We were treated like second-class citizens' — a female Marine reflects on her two decades of service
Jackie Huber was one of the few, but she never felt particularly proud as a woman Marine.
She spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, from 1984 to 2004, and rose from the enlisted ranks to chief warrant officer. She worked in MISSO, the Manpower Information System Support Office, entering data about service members at installations on the East and West coasts. She volunteered for the same duty in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope and lived in a sand-filled camp that smelled of dirt and death.
Huber said it wasn't cool to be a Marine during most of her tenure, which was before the days military members were thanked for their service. Some of the men she worked with made it clear they looked upon women as more trouble than they were worth—unless they needed someone to sleep with, Huber said.
"We were treated like second-class citizens, and we had few rights and fewer advocates," Huber said. "That's why I didn't want anyone to know what I had done. I didn't wanted to be treated like that anymore."
The U.S. Army will always face challenges recruiting the soldiers it needs, but an uphill battle is no excuse not to strive to do better —or learn from other countries' modernization efforts.