Re: Intro -- James McGarrahan LO3861

lifvendahl thomas (
Sun, 26 Nov 1995 10:47:29 -0600 (CST)

Replying to LO3852 --

On Sat, 25 Nov 1995 wrote:

> >Thomas, you wrote that if officers relinquish some of their control, it
> >"undermines the command structure required of the USMC unique mission."
> >
> >I wonder... is our current "command structure" really required, or do we
> >assume that it is because "we've always done it that way"?
> As a former Marine on both sides of the commissioning "line" I disagree
> with Thomas. Our Corps was founded on the principles of total
> responsibility at all levels. One of the great things about our Corps is
> the fact that a unit which loses its commander contiues to perform quite
> as well as if he were still there. The next person in line "steps up" to
> the job. This is no insult to the fallen commander but is, rather, a *KEY
> REASON* why the Corps always wins.
> Someone once told me that they believed the Marine Corps brainwashes its
> people. Nothing could be further from the truth. What they DO is take
> away your "props" - hair, clothing, etc. - then if you have REAL character
> it stands out. I've never known an organization more full of
> individuality. Capt John W. Thomason in World War I wrote about the
> Marine regulars:
> "They were the leathernecks, the old breed of American regular, regarding
> the [Corps] as home - with drilled shoulders, a bone-deep sunburn, and a
> tolerant scorn of nearly everything on Earth. And they transmitted their
> professionalism and their character to the high-hearted ranks that filled
> the Marine Brigade."
> Now, tell me, does that sound like stifling Chain of Command BS to you?
> Is this the enlisted man that we worry about empowering? As I recall, you
> can't STOP his empowerment! And no one who's ever commanded Marines would
> even try.
> Hal Popplewell
> Chairman; The IntelliSys Companies

Hal-the proto-typical Marine is able to "command", no matter what the
level of rank he or she is. Combat does not tolerate indecision and
Marines tend to be "take charge" individuals whose training values the
ability to make clear decisions during ambiguous situations. I never
wanted to imply that the Corps "brainwashes" people but it does train one
to react to abnormal situtations (take that to mean combat) in
pre-determined (tactical) ways.

You have chosen to cite examples from Marine Corps history that honor the
"China Marine" era. Nothing wrong with that, but I would argue that the
modern, information driven, highly administrated enviornment the
contemporary Marine Corps has to operate in requires sophisticated
"knowledges" that require a newer organizational dynamic. The Marine
Corps "core" values hopefully have not changed. The operational
enviornment has. Thus utilizing the "knowledges" of all individual
Marines is important, regardless of rank or gender.

Thomas A. Lifvendahl, Ed.D. 
Northern Illinois University 
RE/ACE Office
DeKalb, Illinois 60115