The Corner

Re: Ncos

Note: Just so you know, I don’t want to be a conduit for inter-service debates about which is the best. Anyway…

From a reader:


I read the argument that NCO’s train folks to OBEY orders and to disobey an unlawful order is unthinkable. Every Marine Officer, as do other services’ officers, swear allegiance to the Constitution, whereas NCO’s swear to obey the lawful orders of superiors. That is NOT a subtle distinction. Officers must have a proper grounding in what the constitution allows the services to do. NCO’s must understand what officers may do.

I can’t speak for the Army, but in the Marine Corps, Marines are taught to think. There are distinct differences in philosophy in the services, which is a saving grace for our country instead of the General Staff unified system of other countries. Each service brings strengths to the country and counteracts the slothful ways of a monopoly.

In the Army, anything that is not explicitly stated is not allowed, whereas the Marines believe that anything that is NOT explicitly disallowed is available. The difference is that one has to understand what you are doing and that judgement is honed with experience.

Without undue bragging, one can see the differences in how effective the services have been in accomplishing their missions. Similarly, one can see the differences in disciplinary efforts. I am sorry that anyone would commit the offenses alleged, yet I am not surprised that the Marines have not had the same degree of issues as have been shown in recent days. All Marines are taught the basic skills of security of gear and of POWS during their basic training.

Somehow, despite my falling out of airplanes five times and thus getting my jump wings, I am not convinced me that the letter that you posted properly convey the ability of junior soldiers, airmen, sailors, Coast Guardians, or Marines to understand and to obey lawful orders and to know the difference of those that are not.


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