The Marine Corps will limit travel for guests of honor for birthday balls due to fiscal and safety reasons, according to a recently released administrative message.
“Due to the challenges of today’s fiscal and physical environment, the Marine Corps will minimize government funded travel for active duty (guests of honor) to attend Marine Corps birthday recognition ceremony,” the MARADMIN said.
The restrictions come as the Marine Corps is dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and is restricting travel for all Marines in an attempt to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly disease.
As of Wednesday, 5,942 Marines had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Department of Defense.
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black over the summer sent out a message warning the Corps that this year’s celebrations of the Marine Corps' birthday would likely be limited by COVID-19 restrictions.
The Marine Corps has not yet responded to questions about what fiscal problems are causing the service to limit travel.
Active duty generals, sergeants major and senior executive service members will have requests to travel to balls denied by the staff director of the Marine Corps if another general, sergeant major or senior executive service member is available locally to act as the guest of honor, the MARAMDIN said.
Marines who have to travel to attend a ball hosted by a unit within their command will not have to request permission from the staff director of the Marine Corps, the MARADMIN reads.
The MARADMIN does not prevent Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger from traveling during the ball season, Master Sgt. Andrew Pendracki told Marine Corps Times Friday.
If travel requests are approved for Marines to act as a guest of honor, they are expected to travel alone and “requests for other travelers, to include aides, will not be considered,” the MARADMIN said.
“Professional stewardship of resources and force health protection extends to the use of support staff and transportation resources,” the MARADMIN reads.
Travel for any guest of honor will not be provided from Headquarters Marine Corps and is expected to come out of ball funds from either the unit hosting the event or the unit the guest of honor belongs to, according to the MARADMIN.
The message also puts a hard limit on how a unit can spend on a gift for the guest of honor at $10. "Non-gifts” such as a plaques do not have the same monetary limit, the MARADMIN added.
However, units are advised to consult with its local staff judge advocate to ensure gifts do not violate any ethics rules or regulations, the MARADMIN said.
“Furthermore, (guests of honor)/guest speakers attending multiple Balls should coordinate in advance with the units to minimize gift(s),” the MARADMIN said.