Yow. That's like the Jesuits denouncing the Pope, isn't it?
That's the thought I had as I read the November issue of the Gazette (yes, pointedly, the birthday ish). First, the editorial in the front, signed by the magazine's editor, retired Col. John Keenan, calls out the commandant by name for giving detailed specifics on how he wants commanders and NCOs to operate. "Gen. Amos delineates numerous policies that are detailed and very prescriptive.... When the Commandant cannot rely on commander's intent and mission orders with general and commanding officers, but instead has to tell them not just the end state but the ‘how' with the detail of a kneeboard checklist, it makes one wonder."
Now, that can be read two ways, either as a slam on the leader or the led, so I wasn't sure quite where Col. Keenan was going. But then, further into the issue, I read an article by Maj. Randall Turner that criticized the commandant's emphasis on diversity in the Corps' officer corps: "The Commandant chances dissension by inadvertently but tacitly promoting a quota system."
On the one hand, it is good to see strong, clear arguments being made. The Gazette seems to be regaining its independent, open-minded footing. On the other hand, it makes me wonder, again: What is going on in the Marine Corps? This doesn't feel to me like the usual post-war "morning after" letdown. More like a crisis of confidence in the institution itself.
A couple of other things that struck me in this issue.
That said, if the mission of the Gazette is to make its readers think, and I suspect it is, then the bottom line on the November issue has to be: Congratulations to Col. Keenan and his team.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.