The United States’ Marine Corps has issued a public video response to the news that Marines were using closed Facebook groups to share naked pictures of service women. The video, posted to the Marine Corps’ official Twitter account, calls out those involved for acting selfishly, and requests soldiers to speak out if they feel they are being harassed.
In the four-minute clip, General Robert Neller — the Commandant of the Marine Corps — says that the allegations are “embarrassing to our Corps, to our families, and to our nation.” Neller outlines the principles of virtue the Marines attempt to uphold, but says that “unfortunately, it appears that some Marines may have forgotten these fundamental truths, and instead have acted selfishly and unprofessionally through their actions on social media.”
Last week, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) launched an investigation into hundreds of Marines who were found to be sharing or commenting on explicit images of female soldiers in the Marines United Facebook group. The private group, which counted more than 30,000 members, was open to male members of the US Marine Corps, Navy Corpsmen, and the British Royal Marines, and — according to a retired Marine — played home to revenge porn and “creepy stalker-like photos taken of girls in public,” as well as “talk about rape, racist comments and just straight bullshit” since its foundation in 2015.
Neller used the video to question the motivations of those involved in the group’s image sharing. “When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don’t think such behavior is that of true warriors or war fighters,” he said. “There is no time off for Marines. We are all-in, 24/7. But if that commitment to excellence interferes with your ‘me’ time, or if you are unwilling to commit 100 percent to our Corps’ war fighting ability by being a good team mate, and improving cohesion and trust, then I have to ask you — do you really want to be a Marine?”
He also addressed those Marines who may have been involuntarily included in the explicit albums, or otherwise unhappy with their treatment at the hands of their peers, calling for victims of harassment to speak to their commanding officers or chaplains. At the same time, Neller called on those senior officials to take such claims seriously, promising protection should abuse be identified.
It remains to be seen whether this public statement will help curtail this kind of toxic culture within the Corps, but Neller says that the military is willing to take further steps — the general uses the video to say that “if changes need to be made, they will be made.”