Should officers and enlisted personnel be held to the same disciplinary standard? That's the question Blue Force Tracker confronts in a new piece "The shifting standard between officer and enlisted." In it, the publication recalls the stories of Former Commandant of the Marine Corps James F. Amos and Sergeant Major Kenneth Lovell III—whose stories bare distinct similarities, but diverge in troubling ways.
In 2001, Amos submitted false information about his biography while under oath. His submission asserts that he graduated from The Basic School in 1972—a fact that was easily refuted by archives that confirm that he completed The Basic School in 1977 via correspondence. Little was made of these discrepancies, however, and Amos was allowed to retire with full benefits.
Compare this story to the one of Lovell, who was the highest-ranking enlisted member of Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Lovell asserted that he was an honor graduate of scout sniper basic course and the recipient of three Combat Action Ribbons. Both of these facts were disputed in the Marine Corps sniper community, proven untrue, and Lovell was removed from his position.
UPHOLDING A CONSISTENT STANDARD
Beyond the obvious question of why either men lied—both had impressive and storied military careers that needed no embellishment— Blue Force Tracker is more concerned with the failure to uphold a consistent standard to all Marine Corps. personnel. "The Marine Corps enforcing two different standards of treatment on similar offenses undermines the very core of what it means to be a Marine, regardless of rank," writer James Weirick posits.
The same sentiment is echoed throughout a number of recent headlines concerning favoritism and nepotism inside military culture—and how particularly damaging it can be when self-policing cases of sexual abuse. As Weirick adds: "The obvious scrapping of the shared standard between officers and enlisted signifies the need for a recalibrating of the military leadership’s moral compass."
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