Ousted Marine leaders won't get a second shot at command billet

Though long considered to be career-ending, Corps officials are making Marine Corps officials made it explicitly clear this year that Marine officers who've been removed from their leadership posts won't colonels and lieutenant colonels previously relieved of duty for cause will not get a second shot chance at a command billet.

The clause is spelled out in Marine administrative message 268/15, which announced the upcoming meeting of the Fiscal Year 2016 Command Screening Boards for colonels and lieutenant colonels. The stipulation, one of nine reasons an officer might be unsuitable for a command billet, is new this year.

Now ineligible to go before the boards will be "officers who have been relieved for cause from a designated [lieutenant colonel] or [colonel] command screened billet regardless of length of time in command," the message states. The boards, consisting of general officers, screen colonels and lieutenant colonels for command-level leadership billets to provide "Marines with the best and most fully qualified commanders," it reads.

Announcements about the screening boards convening MARADMINS in 2014 and 2013 make no mention of the restriction, though Yvonne Carlock, a spokeswoman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs said the additional language reflects longstanding policy.

Carlock described it as an administrative change, simply listing what Marines have known is part of the screening board's guidance at they comb through personnel records.

Still, it falls in line with the Corps' top brass' very public push for more accountability. Officials increasingly have held leaders responsible for what happens under their watch in recent years. Some have been relieved of command after specific events, like fatal training accidents. Others have been removed from their posts following their own missteps. The reasons behind others were less clear.

Marine leaders carrying out the firings often cite a loss of confidence in the commanders' ability to lead their units or squadrons.

Command climate, or how subordinates view leadership's performance tackling issues like drug and alcohol abuse within the unit, also has risen in importance during the past few years. Since 2013, Marines are required to complete a survey annually — or when a change in command occurs. The tool is designed to highlight areas in need of improvement.

After reviewing the findings, lieutenant colonels and colonels are expected to brief their superiors and tackle the issues. Accountability was one, though not the only, reason for rolling out the surveys, officials said at the time.

This year's command screening board will convene July 7 for lieutenant colonels and July 8 for colonels. Eligible officers will be chosen for billets opening up between June 2016 and May 2017. The administrative message did not specify how many billets are estimated to become available in that period.

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