A Letter from the Editor

Members of the Association and Gazette readers,

The purpose of this note is to clarify the decision not to publish the series of articles written by the group calling themselves Chowder II and to explain why the “Preface” to this series will appear in the January print edition of the Gazette. The decision not to publish the series is mine alone as was my original intent to publish these articles.  No pressure or influence from the leadership of the Association, HQMC, or anyone else forced me to change course.  The content and tone of the articles did.

The Gazette remains committed to promoting professional debate on the issues of greatest importance to the Corps.  The arguments in such a debate need to be fact-based and logically valid.  The goal in selecting works for publication is to present balance in this discourse, so opposing views will appear and are encouraged.  As a publication of the Marine Corps Association, if there is a bias at all in the Gazette’s content it must lean in favor of today’s Marines and their leaders.

I published the December 2022 Gazette as a collection of previously published articles on all sides of the FD2030 debate. My intent going forward is to focus on defining the military problem facing the Corps and to help build consensus on that definition. The purpose in taking more of a “blank-slate” approach to defining the military problem and proposing a solution to that problem, whether it is an alternative to FD2030 or not, is to promote alternative solutions as opposed to framing every single point in opposition to FD2030.  I was approached by representatives of the Chowder II group who had been writing opinion pieces as individuals in multiple journals. The representatives offered a new series of articles examining the military problem, their concerns with the current direction the Marine Corps is taking and proposing an alternative solution for the future.  In my desire to continue the debate by expediting publication early in the new year, we hastily published the “Preface” to the Chowder II series online while starting the editing process on the other three articles.

That process uncovered some serious issues, as it should.  First the essays as written only make their points in opposition to FD2030 – in other words FD2030 becomes the military problem and the only solution is “not FD 2030.”  Second, there was insufficient citation of sources or references for statements asserted as facts.  My associate editors and I indicated where this documentation was required and collected the references from the representatives of Chowder II.  Some of the sources are not authoritative, and further fact checking was required.  Some sources are anonymous which leads to the second issue.  As a best practice in publishing, anonymous sources are to be avoided as much as possible and pseudonyms/pen names should be used sparingly by individual authors not groups.  Neither anonymous sources nor anonymous groups of authors lend credibility to the article or the journal.

I made the representatives of Chowder II aware of these issues and established the following conditions for publication:

-Rewrite the series taking a blank slate approach to defining the problem.
-Provide proper citation of authoritative sources and references for any assertions of fact.
-Fully disclose the members of Chowder II.

To date they have refused and intend to seek out publication in another journal.

Due to the lead-time required in print media, the “Preface” has already been printed in the January 2023 edition of the Gazette.  I regret any confusion this will cause, and I will continue to protect the credibility of the open forum for the exchange of ideas that the Gazette provides.

Semper Fidelis

Col Chris Woodbridge, USMC (Ret)