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For reservists, 'Reawakening' means hotel room guards and more nights in the field

Jan. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Assumption of Command and Appointment Ceremony
Marines salute their newly appointed commander and sergeant major of Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES) and Marine Forces North (MARFORNORTH) during the pass-in-review of the assumption of command and appointment ceremony Aug. 28, 2013, aboard Marine Corps Support Facility, New Orleans. (Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Schlueter / Marine Corps)
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NEW ORLEANS — Reservists are not exempt from the commandant’s “Reawakening” campaign to tighten standards in garrison life, the three-star commander of Marine Forces Reserve said last month, outlining a host of new measures to increase oversight and promote discipline during weekend and summer drill periods.

As active-duty Marines face sweeping changes as part of Gen. Jim Amos’ efforts to combat slipping standards and misbehavior after a decade of war, their counterparts in the reserves will also be called to toe the line, Lt. Gen. Richard Mills told Marine Corps Times during a late December interview.

Marines on active duty are getting extra oversight in their barracks under the change, so reserve Marines will post a duty watch on each floor of the hotels they stay in during drill periods, Mills said. Those reserve duty officers will wear the service “Bravo” or “Charlie” uniform to stand watch, just as Marines on active duty do.

And some reserve unit commanders, Mills said, are looking to do away with hotel stays altogether in favor of nights together in a “train-as-you-fight” environment.

“Rather than staying in a hotel, is the training facility big enough to be able to put racks out there, and imagine you’re in the field?” Mills said.

Mills said the move would reduce the likelihood of misbehavior by Marines who go into town to drink after a day of drilling, and possibly cut costs in a budget-constrained environment.

But there were concerns, he said, with implementing this step across the board for reservists.

“With reserves, you have to be very careful,” he said. “If you live within 50 miles of a reserve center, you get to go home at night; people have come to expect that. We’ve got to work through all those reserve-unique issues. But there are ways that we can do it, to ensure that they’re receiving the same guidance and oversight that an active Marine receives.”

In addition to hotel duty officers and sleeping in racks, he said Reserve officials would be installing cameras in the few barracks facilities within MARFORRES, just as the active forces were doing, and considering the possibility of installing panic buttons in barracks rooms as well, to create an extra measure of safety.

Mills said MARFORRES plans to will also host an essay competition on the topic of leadership in the Reserves, with winning submissions published in the Marine Corps Gazette. That project, he said, is in the planning stages.

While Amos has said the Marine Corps’ “institutional fabric is fraying” from the strain of more than 10 years of deployments, as evidenced by incidents of sexual assault, hazing and drunken misconduct, Mills said the reserve forces have not seen a marked uptick in incidents of misbehavior.

Reservists tend to be a more mature force, he said, with reservists being older on average than active-duty enlisted Marines and holding full-time civilian jobs. Still, Mills said he believed it was necessary to reinforce the message of Marine Corps identity in keeping with the commandant’s push for higher standards.

“Our women and men are a cross-section of American culture,” he said. “And do we have some that cause us trouble? Unfortunately we do. Do we have to remind some of our Marines daily of what our standards are? Absolutely. And so is it incumbent on us to reset the force to get back to an expeditionary mindset? Again, absolutely.”

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