June 2012: Editorial

This month’s edition of the Gazette has an article that wades into what is shaping up as the debate among the retired and, I suspect, a portion of the active duty communities. The topic is women in the infantry. We will have a lot more to say on this subject in the next issue. However, SgtMaj David K. Devaney opens the debate with his article, “Women in Combat Arms Units,” on page 62. I think it is important to note that a review of the assignment of women in the Marine Corps is not a Corps initiative. It is a congressionally mandated, DoD-led review. The background is contained in ALMAR 012/12 and is available at http://www.marines.mil/news/messages/Pages/ALMAR012-12.aspx.

Another debate on the infantry in general and the Reserves in particular is joined by LtGen Dennis M. McCarthy, USMCR(Ret), in his article on page 20, “Infantry Augmentation.” He specifically argues that just viewing the rifle companies in the Marine Corps Reserves as an augmentation force for active duty battalions (providing them with a fourth rifle company) is not only shortsighted but impracticable.

Also included in this issue is a spirited debate about the Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Program. In “Challenging the Marine FAO Program” on page 67, LtCol Lloyd Freeman argues that although the program has great personal benefits for the individual, the return in value to the Corps of the education and in-country assignment does not warrant the investment. On the other hand, in “The Marine FAO Program” on page 71, LtCol A. Ché Bolden defends the program as a key component of the Corps’ engagement worldwide. He argues that the FAO Program provides the Corps with a cadre of culturally and linguistically savvy Marines who add value to the Corps both in and out of their FAO assignments.

There are several articles in this month’s issue on multiple topics about the Corps that may be debated. They range from officer professional military education to leadership. However, many of the “hot button” issues that are being debated and discussed are not in the pages of the paper magazine, but they are online on our blogs and in the comments section of the articles that we post on our website. Among the topics posted and debated are the uses of social media by the official Marine Corps. Actually the debate is how the Corps is not using social media effectively. Also being debated is leadership and the need for nonconformist leaders who think outside the box and instead of being excoriated are rewarded for eschewing “group think.” Letters to the editor are great and always welcome, but slowly but surely the debate is moving from the letters page to the web.

Our goal is to satisfy all of our readers no matter how they choose to read the Gazette, whether it is online only, on the computer or other digital device, or a combination of digital and print. The important point though is to be more than just a passive reader; participate in the debate. Perhaps Maj Jonathan P. Burgess’ article, “Writer’s Block” on page 57, will help encourage you to write, whether an article, a letter, or a blog entry. The important point is that you join the debate on the ideas and issues that affect the Corps today and in the future.

John Keenan