Marines may have "acted selfishly and unprofessionally" on social media, thus betraying the Corps' axiom that all Marines are brothers and sisters on the same team, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said on Wednesday.
The top Marine delivered a stern message via video posted online in response to widespread allegations that an unknown number of Marines and veterans were posting nude photos of female service members.
"When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don't think such behavior is that of true warriors or warfighters," Neller said in a 3 minute and 50 second video posted online.
Neller’s message to all Marines comes in response to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into whether any Marines may have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice by posting nude photos of female service members, veterans and civilians without their consent on the "Marines United" Facebook page.
Although he did not speak specifically about the NCIS investigation, Neller made clear that the type of behavior that is alleged is "embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation."
"Right now, we all need to be focused on getting better, becoming more lethal … not hiding on social media, participating in – or being aware of – actions that are disrespectful and harmful to other Marines," Neller said.
Neller urged Marines who have been harassed on social media or otherwise to talk to their chain of command, chaplain or a victim legal counsel. He told enlisted leaders that he expects them to protect any victims who come forward from retaliation. Officers must make sure that all those under their command understand Marine Corps rules on social media, harassment and abuse.
"We will ensure that the investigative process that is ongoing supports the reporting of conduct like this," he said. "If changes need to be made, they will be made."
The majority of Marines are working hard at their jobs, said Neller, who added, "I will proudly go to war with you tonight."
Neller also issued an ultimatum to any Marines who do not live up to the Corps' ideals.
"What we say and do each day represents who we are, and there is no time off for Marines," Neller said. "We are all-in 24/7. And if that commitment to excellence interferes with your 'me-time;' or if you can't or are unwilling to commit 100 percent to our Corps' warfighting ability by being a good teammate and improving cohesion and trust, then I have to ask you: Do you really want to be a Marine?"