Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Marine Corps has reinvented itself throughout its history. The new Commandant is doing it again.
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.
But the Corps recently got a new Commandant, Gen. David Berger. Berger has jumped into the fire with both feet. Only a few days on the job, he has put out a series of initiatives in his Commandant's Planning Guidance (CPG) that point to a period of great change for the Corps.
Through its 243 years, the Corps has had to reinvent itself countless times.
Looking at many veterans' attitudes, especially online, you see a lot of complaining about the many failings of civilians. Most of those complaints come under the aegis of "slimy" or "nasty."
The best version of this is, "I worked so much harder than everyone else they fired me for making everyone else look bad."
Let's clarify. No one has ever been fired for doing too good of a job. You were fired for being an insufferable asshole to your coworkers, not because of your groundbreaking excellence in the world of pest control.
Sometimes it's civilians causing the "civil-military divide." But let's be honest, often, or even usually, it's veterans belittling civilians. You never hear a civilian saying,"I can't stand all these freaking nasty veterans around here!"
Jacob Wohl, noted conspiracy theorist, internet fraudster, and contender for the youngest person ever to operate a bogus hedge fund, recently promised via Twitter that he would join the military. That is, he'll join the military, "probably the Army," if President Trump attacks Iran. He even specified that he would enlist within ten days.
The ten day timeframe would itself be laughable if it weren't for the fact that children born on September 11, 2001 are now eligible to enlist and possibly go to Afghanistan. So, if Wohl actually did follow through on his promise, he would conceivably still get to fight after spending a few months in poolee status, boot camp, MOS training, etc.
That said, Wohl will never enlist, war with Iran or no war with Iran. Is the hypothetical war with Iran somehow more worthy than the ones we've been fighting against the Taliban, Iraq, ISIS, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda in Iraq, or Al Qaeda original flavor for nearly two decades, i.e. nearly the whole time Wohl has been alive?
Former White House Chief of Staff and Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus was recently sworn in as an ensign in the Naval Reserve at the age of 47.
There are undoubtedly many who will dismiss this as a stunt. The U.S. military is consistently one of the most trusted institutions in America. As a career politico, Priebus could certainly use the halo effect of military service going forward. Based on his history, there's little doubt he'll pursue another high office, whether elected or appointed.
There's certainly some level of self-interest involved. For all the bluster vets have about selfless service, almost everyone who's joined had at least some amount of selfishness involved. Whether it's college money, bonus money, learning a skill, or learning self-discipline, everyone joins looking to get something out of it.
Very few, if any, service members are solely doing it out of love of country and expecting nothing in return. Priebus, to the extent he may be doing this for selfish reasons, is not much different than anyone else joining the military — it's just that instead of looking to learn diesel engine repair to get a job at a truck stop, he's building a service history to help his future run for governor or senator.
Just because he's playing at a higher level is no reason to hate on him.
As I've continued my transition from the military to the civilian world, I feel as if I make a little more progress every day. I no longer twitch upon seeing a hat worn indoors. I now go up to two-and-a-half weeks without a haircut. I've also stopped dipping into Monster cans and using "motherfuckin'" instead of "um…" as fillers during public speaking.
That said, the civilian world does have its own annoying tics I'm not a huge fan of. The next person I hear saying "laying flat" when referring to something that's wrapped up is getting an overdose of Marine Corps Martial Arts right in the grape.
That's why as much as I'm adapting to corporate life, I wish the civilian world would take at least a few military terms onboard.
As veterans, it's easy to believe all the popular hype that the military is filled with heroes. From football games to the movies, military members are lionized, not on an individual basis, but on a collective one. The average citizen would be hard pressed to name one Medal of Honor recipient, but would probably say without hesitation that all the troops are heroes.
Whether a day out of boot camp or a 30-year combat vet, everyone who's worn a uniform is a modern-day Captain America. That's great, and perhaps a welcome change from how people viewed the military after Vietnam.
Unfortunately, too many vets believe their own PR, and subscribe to what I'd call the “veteran superiority complex."