The new version of the Marine Corps Commandant's professional reading list is out, and one title is conspicuously absent.Hey Marines, we're about to take that fucking hill. We MUST win because the entire division is waiting on us so that they can conduct their break thru.
For the first time since the list debuted in 1989, "Message to Garcia" is nowhere to be found on it.
The 42-page essay penned by Elbert Hubbard in 1899 tells a simple story of a US military officer tasked with delivering a message to the remote leader of the Cuban rebels on the eve of the Spanish-American war. It has been hailed as an example of obedience to orders and task accomplishment, and reportedly is a favorite of former Florida governor and recent presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
But in an essay published in the February issue of the Marine Corps Gazette, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Conroy argued it was time to take "Message to Garcia" off the list for good. The literary work, he argued, reinforces the wrong kind of ideas about leadership and how to follow orders.
Conroy takes issue with the essay's central premise, which encourages troops to complete tasks without asking questions.
"This unquestioning moral is particularly interesting for leaders who are reading the essay, as it raises questions itself," he writes. "Namely, 'Why didn't the soldier ask how or why?' and 'What can I do to replicate that kind of unquestioning confidence in my subordinates?' Sadly, the test of the essay itself stops short of answering these questions."
The essay, Conroy continues, isn't even historically accurate, and is challenged on key points by the account of the officer himself, Army 1st Lt. Andrew Summers Rowan.
"As leaders of Marines in the 21st century, we are in a unique position to leverage the education, versatility, and intellect of our subordinates," Conroy concludes. "Rather than shunning questions, we must teach Marines how and when to ask questions and embrace questions through the training and mentoring process in order to eventually deploy Marines who are confident in their leaders, their tactics, and their mission."
Reached for comment by Military.com, Conroy, now serving as a systems integration chief for Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School, declined to elaborate further.
"While I'm obviously excited to have possibly influenced change in the professional reading program, and hoping that this isn't the most epic April Fool's joke that the Marine Corps has ever pulled on me, I think I'd prefer to let my essay stand mostly on its own," he said in an April 1 email.
A spokesman for Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, Lt. Col. Eric Dent, said the change didn't come about as a result of the editorial. Neller had removed the essay from the "Commandant's Choice" section, where it had been under previous commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford's tenure, Dent said, and it was dropped from the list entirely as a result.
Pvt Joe Blow raises his hand and asks why? Pvt Drunk on Liberty echoes the question and suggests that they instead circle round. Cpl Crack Head thinks that they should wait and that the assault is a bit hasty.
This new Marine Corps will be interesting to watch on future battlefields. Personally I have no confidence in the transformation that's being pushed and I fear that a war winning formula for over 200 years is being unnecessarily fucked with in the name of being "trendy" and accommodating to this "new" breed of Marines.
The dropping of a book from the Commandant's Reading List might seem like a minor issue but the implications are serious.
The USMC that you once knew is dying right before your eyes.