Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marines, Money and Marriage

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marines, Money and Marriage

Article excerpt

THE MARINE Commandant, Gen. Carl E. Mundy, isn't the first person to conclude that people shouldn't rush into marriage and children.

"They ought to require a license before anyone can have children" is a refrain commonly heard in supermarket lines.

Still, it's hard not to be shocked by one of Mundy's recent policy directives. He tried to ban married recruits after September 1995. And he wanted to require people already in the Marines to consult their commanding officers before they wed.

Defense Secretary Les Aspin squashed Mundy's directive, but many Marines apparently agree with Mundy.

"Three cheers for the Marines!" retired Marine Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, wrote in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times.

"Married junior enlisted personnel have been a headache since the advent of the all-volunteer force, whatever its other virtues. . . . Countless platoon leaders have torn their hair out because young recruits who should have been concentrating on soldiering have been distracted by marriage problems."

Staff Sgt. Randy W. Matthews told The New York Times: "Marriage detracts from readiness. A Marine's mind can't be back home, wondering if his wife has a roof over her head."

We've heard the readiness argument before. For awhile, it kept blacks in segregated units. It still keeps women out of most combat roles. It's also one of the arguments for keeping homosexuals out of the armed forces.

How like a male-run, tradition-bound, military hierarchy to blame its current readiness problems on wives.

The Marine Corps hierarchy wants us to believe that Mundy's aborted policy initiative was motivated by concern for the emotional strain on young marriages. When called upon to defend Mundy's proposal, a spokesman pointed out that there were 1,416 divorces or separations in 1992 among the 50,000 or so Marines who were then on their first tour of duty.

It's pretty clear, though, that Munday's proposal was motivated not by his concern over broken families, but by the fact that families are a bother to the Marine Corps, and expensive, to boot.

Families require housing and schools and playgrounds and day-care centers. …

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