During a visit to Afghanistan in 2011, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett thanks Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, for their hard work, selflessness and endurance. Barrett has started a Twitter account so that he can reach out to enlisted members across the service. (Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde/Marine Corps)
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From hashmarks to hashtags.
The Marine Corps’ top enlisted leader sent out his first Twitter message Wednesday morning, marking his entry into the world of social media and the beginning of a new way to communicate with the troops.
“I just spoke to FY13 GySgt Sel. Board,” Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett tweeted. “My message: DON’T select to allocations…select QUALITY! #bringyourAgame.”
A simple message, but Barrett’s spokeman, Gunnery Sgt. Chanin Nuntavong, said the use of the medium was a long time coming.
“I have been trying to get the sergeant major involved with social media since he came on deck (in 2011),” Nuntavong said. “I’m very aware that this is the way people gather their information nowadays. And the other day, he said, ‘I think I’m ready to do this.’ So we very quickly made that happen.”
Nuntavong, who has maintained a personal, unofficial Twitter account for years, will be very involved with maintaining Barrett’s Twitter feed. While he declined to say whether Barrett will type and send his own tweets, he said the account will include parts of motivating talks the sergeant major gives to the troops, behind-the-scenes photos from events, and congratulations to individual Marines on their achievements, among other things.
Barrett joins enlisted leaders from other services already on Twitter, including Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens. But Nuntavong said the approach they will be taking to the medium will be entirely original.
“We always do our own thing; we’re Marines,” he said. “We’re going to be different. We’ll let people follow (the account) and judge for themselves.”
For a start, they will be working to get verified by Twitter, something neaither Chandler nor Stevens has done yet.
As to what accounts Barrett will follow, Nuntavong said that will depend on the information he decides will be helpful to have in the feed. On day one, Barrett was following 16 accounts, including those of the other enlisted leaders and the personal account of Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer.
The Marine Corps Times contacted the office of Commandant Gen. Jim Amos to ask if he has plans to join Twitter as well.
“No,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Plenzler, the general’s spokesman. “The commandant won’t be tweeting any time soon.”