The commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps took to Facebook last Friday afternoon, answering nearly 30 candid questions from the Marine Corps community in the space of an hour as part of his ongoing “Reawakening” effort to engage directly with enlisted Marines.
According to site administrators on the official Marines Facebook page, some 900 questions and comments rolled in during the hour Gen. Jim Amos and Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett were online.
While Amos addressed a number of popular themes, such as women in combat arms roles, recruiting, and sexual assault prevention, he also revealed some surprising facts about himself and addressed a few hotly contested Marine Corps policies.
Here are top five things we learned:
5. Amos and Barrett read Terminal Lance every week…and like it, most of the time.
In response to a question from Maximilian Uriarte, creator of the popular Terminal Lance web comic, Amos said his favorite strip of the comic was “Rolled Up,” a response to Amos’s decision to return the Corps to rolled sleeves on combat utilities in the summertime.
“Thanks for putting some energy behind this decision. I smile every time I think about it. Enjoy,” Amos wrote.
A few minutes later, Barrett acknowledged that he read the strip every week.
“You are usually spot-on…but not always,” Barrett wrote.
Amos and Barrett did not, however, say which comics they felt missed the mark.
4. Forget about a change to the tattoo policy. It’s not going to happen…or is it?
Next to the recently reversed decision to go sleeves-down in the summers, the most embattled recent Marine Corps uniform policy is the 2010 set of restrictions to tattoo quantity and placement set in place by Amos’s predecessor, Gen. James Conway. In response to a commenter’s request to “reverse silly tattoo policy,” Amos said no dice.
“The current tattoo policy will remain in place. There are no plans to change anything,” he wrote.
A glimmer of optimism does remain for tattoo lovers, though: Amos was similarly adamant until recently that he would not reverse the sleeves-down rule. There’s also a chance that Amos’s successor might decide to change the current policy when the commandancy changes hands at the end of this year.
3. Amos does have a CAR: it’s in his garage.
Active-duty Marines sometimes complain that Amos, a Marine aviator, does not have a combat action ribbon. This has clearly rankled; a staffer for Amos once took to social media to say Amos “has been in many a fight … probably killed more enemy with his F-18 than any single company of grunts.”
During the town hall Q&A, though, Amos took a lighter approach. When a user asked him where his “CAR” was, Amos said he has one, and it’s a classic.
“I have a 1972 VW Convertible in my garage,” Amos wrote. “I bought it as a lieutenant. I’m going to drive away from the Marine Corps in it when I retire.”
2. MARSOC operators may get to sport the Raiders name in the future.
The critical skills operators of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command share a legacy of special missions with the Marine Raiders of World War II. But they can’t call themselves Raiders, Amos decided in 2011, and use of the distinctive Raiders patch on uniforms is not authorized, though it does happen nonetheless.
Amos wouldn’t tip his hand about changes to that policy Friday, but said the Marine Corps was evaluating its options.
“We’re looking into it,” he said. “No decision has been made at this time.”
1. Amos is a fan of the knife hand.
While Marine Corps Times reported last year that some Marine leaders were cautioning against overuse of the aggressive “knife hand” in favor of renewed emphasis on core leadership values, Amos said he still pulls out a bladed hand from time to time.
When a user asked him to bring back knife hands, he responded that they were never banned.
“In fact, I use it all the time after I’m done addressing Marines,” he said. “It shouldn’t be used to berate Marines. It’s a sign of camaraderie. Let’s not make it more than it is.”
The Facebook town hall, the brainchild of the Marine Corps social media team, was the first of its kind, but Amos and Barrett hinted that they might try it again soon.
“We will be back up on the net here shortly,” they wrote. “Keep the faith.”
Read the full Q&A here.