Editor's Note: LtGen Neller posted this short message at the Marine Corps Gazette blog. A slightly modified version is posted here as his message may be of interest to the broader community.
Thanks to all who checked out my blog entry entitled, “New Year’s Resolutions for Marines.” I especially want to thank Marine Sergeant Stan Mitchell of Alpha 1/8 circa 1999, who provided some great feedback and insight on training Marines with some specific recommendations on things to do and just as importantly things not to do while in the field. I do have to say I was more than a little disappointed that Sgt Mitchell was the only one to come back on the blog. Not that I thought what I wrote was good or even worthy of response . . . though I did think the piece did have some clever and “pithy” commentary on ‘Marineisms,’ and some of our shortfalls, as both individuals and an institution. Now I am aware, from my large and capable editorial staff, that there some “cyber sidebars” on Twitter and other forums used by our more technologically endowed Marines who had some strong views on what I had presented, particularly in the area of training. Upon hearing this I offered up to an intermediary to provide my personal email for those who wanted to discuss off line their thoughts. One Officer, an Army Officer, did contact me and we had a good exchange of thoughts on training tasks, higher taskings and finding “white space.” But sadly, no Marines.
So what does this all mean, other than what I “blogged” was of marginal value and not worthy of a response? Should I have made one of the resolutions, “To do all I can as a leader to foster a spirit of discussion and learning among all Marines, regardless of rank, did better our Corps?” Look, I know that many/most are not going to take me on if they disagree out of deference to rank/seniority. I find that troubling since if I am willing to put myself out on to the “blogosphere” then I knowingly accept the “wrath of the crowd.” If I didn’t want push back, I wouldn’t have engaged. My goal is, I believe, the same as all who write: to challenge, discuss, and work to solve the issues of the day. To make this Corps better and to hold all accountable to their responsibilities as leaders of Marines. If we as an institution ever lose that willingness to take on a “bad idea” or to “stand up to or push back on an incompetent or illegal act” then we will not be the organization I know we are capable of being. Like all other qualities in Marines, we cannot expect this willingness to pop up out of thin air the moment it is needed. It needs to be fostered and encouraged by leaders and honed in discourse. So, Marines, do not be afraid to engage intelligently and tactfully. And leaders, never discourage your Marines from speaking their minds in a professional forum.
Again Marines, thanks for being whom and what you are. Keep the faith.