Of all the military history and iconography US military units can borrow from ... way down on my list would be anything associated with Nazi Germany - on par with Communists.
I'll give the modern German military their own traditions - but even they are smart enough to avoid this insanity that broke out last week.
The Marine Corps on Thursday once again did damage control after a photograph surfaced of a sniper team in Afghanistan posing in front of a flag with a logo resembling that of the notorious Nazi SS ...First things first; don't even try to make excuses. Don't embarass yourself - they knew what that symbol means.
The only mitigating factor might be an education system that refuses to "judge," is weak on history, and is even worse in teaching critical thought. In any event - even nations who should know better seem to have a similar problem.
Besides what martial tradition those Marines were thinking they needed to tap in to - this is really about something quite deeper and much wider than just the USMC. We've touched on it a few times here .... but no one has quite captured the problem as well as Captain Brett Friedman, USMC over at the Marine Corps Gazette blog. Brett, you take it from here;
Verily, verily, verily.Every Marine has heard the old trope that supervision is the most important step in BAMCIS, but do we know how to do it? It’s more than just ensuring that tasks get accomplished, regulations are adhered to, and Marines are present for duty. If you, as a leader, are not affecting how those tasks get accomplished, which of those regulations are followed, and how Marines conduct themselves when not present for duty, you’re only doing the bare minimum of what is expected of you. If your only method for affecting your Marines as your subordinates is punishment and paperwork, you’ve yet to learn the meaning of leadership. No matter how long you’ve been in.LtCol Grice’s post and these tragic events that have come to light lately prove that we no longer know how to supervise, lead, and maintain discipline. We’re supervising the wrong things. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to retrain the Marine Corps to fix our supervision problem. It’s a direct result of our culture. Our culture has brought us to the point where we all bear responsibility for these events. Every one of us. Every NCO who is more concerned with knocking out a checklist than mentoring his young Marines. Every SNCO who spends time searching out uniform regulation infractions. Every officer more concerned with paperwork and formats than setting an example. Every Marine, of any rank, who has told a subordinate to “shut up and color” when he or she pointed out that something was wrong. Our acquiescence to a culture of corrosive leadership has created this problem. We allowed leadership to be conflated with the creation and rote memorization of irrelevant regulations. We stopped mentoring and started poor parenting. We allowed bureaucratization to drown professionalism. We fostered a belief that we are special snowflakes who need rules, but not morality. We hazed Lance Corporal Lew. We desecrated human bodies. We posed in front of Nazi symbology. It's our fault that the Commandant has had to publicly apologize for a problem that our poor leadership caused.All of these events were a failure of leadership. Every Marine involved knew that what they were doing is wrong, but they did nothing to stop it. This is a problem that a safety standown, more specific regulations, and education about morality and ethics will not fix. We have fostered a culture that takes perverse pleasure in enforcing irrelevant standards while simultaneously ignoring or enabling true misconduct. We’ve fostered a generation of Marines who will look at the picture of the scout snipers and see facial hair, unbloused boots, and hands in pockets before they notice Nazi propaganda. They will quickly condemn failures in appearance but will enable and defend moral failings. They will ignore and allow a Lance Corporal to be hazed and ostracized. They will join in with the desecration of bodies. These are our priorities. But at least the grass around the battalion CP will remain undisturbed by feet clad in identical socks.
From off-angle #1 priorities, to an obsession with glowbelts and uniform regs that require a JAG to provide guidance - we have the symptoms. The illness? As with most things - it is leadership.
I will ask you this though - are our leaders being allowed to lead? In an environment where one immature, small minded, insecure person who is feeling butt-hurt can launch an IG to destroy someone because they didn't show LCDR Butt-hurt enough love - is there any wonder that we have trended towards bureaucracy and the petty tyranny of little rules?