|The few. The proud. The expendable.|
|Written by Brandon James Smith, Columnist|
|Monday, 14 March 2011 19:06|
First, let me begin by saying there might be some controversy regarding this issue, or perhaps not. However, what is about to follow struck a chord with me and I felt it was a story worth sharing. Ah, where to start?
Everyone knows the economy has been, for lack of a better word, rough the last few years. Sure, insurance companies, factories and countless other businesses lay people off, right? It’s just part of what happens during a recession. When times are tough, or places are just looking to cut costs, a corporation looks at jobs deemed unnecessary and areas they feel can be consolidated.
Of course, hardly anyone ever thinks about the military being a corporation or a business, but it is.
The media rarely recognizes this concept. And why would we? Americans have this image of our proud men and women who fight and die for our country and that they are treated with respect and dignity. We’ve all seen the commercials. “Be All You Can Be.” Or, “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”
They’ll pay for your college if you join, you’ll get all types of discounts and benefits and, to top it off, you’re serving your country for the greater good.
These slogans — these promises — like everything else, are an advertisement for a product.
Two years ago Commandant Gen. James Conway of the Marine Corps approved what is called “The Career Designation Program,” which essentially kicks active-duty Marines (men and women who have spent years, even decades, of their lives moving up in rank and becoming officers) out of service. This is bizarre considering the Corps, according to the Nov. 2009 issue of Marine Corps Times, were offering Marines who became officers $4,000 accession bonuses and $30,000 for college loans as recently as 2008 and early 2009.
What a difference a year can make. Here is a quote from Lt. Gen. Ronald Coleman from the same Marine Corps Times 2009 issue: “To pick a number, we’re going to say, ‘OK, we need 80 percent to stay’…the 20 percent will be [processed] out, and that 20 percent can go into the reserves, or not.”
Wait, what? Well certainly somebody must have reported this in the last two years. Twenty percent of Marine officers will be shoved out? The military isn’t an insurance company. The military isn’t a factory. We’re told that the people who join the United States military work hard, stay out of trouble, fight the good fight and live to tell about it are rewarded, right? Certainly not…discarded, right?
Nope. No. That’s the answer I found. Nobody else reported these layoffs, um, I mean, “career designations.” The only publication to do so was, again, the Marine Corps Times. So, without anyone criticizing or asking questions, things went ahead as planned, and as of last month, 205 active-duty Marine officers out of 654 “didn’t make the cut.” One of those men was First Lt. Ryan Kohrig.
Kohrig has been in the Marines for 17 years. In those 17 years he has served a tour in Iraq, spent two years as a recruiter and organized a group called “Operation Taking Care of our Own” to help “wounded troops and civilians at the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad’s International Zone.” Oh, and at the age of 35, he also passed his physical tests with flying colors. Not to mention, he is — well, was — currently in pursuit of his master’s degree.
But hey, I guess Kohrig’s not the type of Marine the Corps wants as an officer. Or maybe the military is just a business, and certain people are, despite their records, expendable.