MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, California --
A senior enlisted Marine addressed the Corps’ social media misconduct by talking to service members at Southern California installations March 13-15.
Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal, I Marine Expeditionary Force, spoke to approximately 7,000 Marines and sailors during various engagements at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
Kasal is slated to address thousands more Marines and sailors in Yuma, Arizona, and Twentynine Palms, California, in the coming weeks.
The gatherings came after service members allegedly displayed demeaning and degrading content online, specifically, sharing other service members’ nude photographs and openly sexually harassing others.
Kasal demanded noncommissioned officers and staff noncommissioned officers demonstrate the same daily devotion to one another that they would show while in combat.
“I’ve now met Sgt. Green,” Kasal said as he picked a Marine from the audience and shook his hand. “I may not know the rest of you, but you’re still a Marine. If you attack one of us, you attack all of us. We would do that on the battlefield. All I ask of you is you do that 24/7.”
Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Ronald Green shared this sentiment in an earlier statement: “Let me be perfectly clear: No person should be treated this way. It is inconsistent with our core values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission. Stand up, speak out, and be a voice of change for the better. Hold those who misstep accountable.”
Marine commandant Gen. Robert Neller, in a video message to Marines and sailors, expressed his desire for bystanders and victims of derogatory online posts to come forward.
“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,” Neller said.
While testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee March 14, Neller pledged that a Marine Corps task force will assess the problem and identify long-term solutions for the online and cultural issue.
Neller issued additional guidance in a message to all Marines and sailors March 17: “Marines must never engage in commentary or publish content on social networking platforms or through other forms of communication that harm good order and discipline or that bring discredit upon themselves, their unit or the Marine Corps.”
He also stated that wrongdoers can be punished under Articles 92 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Kasal explained that while the Commandant of the Marine Corps is testifying before Congress, and while the Corps deals with misconduct, the focus Marines and sailors have on preparing for combat and mission accomplishment must not be diminished.
“There are only three battles we should be fighting right now,” he said. “One is those Marines who are forward deployed … two are the battles simulating operations and training exercises to prepare you and get ready to go over into harm’s way … third … is the battle with Congress to try to get more money, more funds to give you equipment, give you the weapons and ammo to do live-fire (training).”
The Marine Corps has resources to support Marines affected by activity on Facebook groups like Marines United and those who seek legal or other support through access to resources such as chaplains, victim legal counsel, behavioral health counselors, sexual assault response coordinators, sexual assault uniformed victim advocates, chain of command, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, inspector general, equal opportunity advisors and victim witness assistant coordinators.