Marines take a number of surveys from health assessments, command climate to safety issues, and now Marines are telling their commands they’ve had enough.

According to a recent Marine administrative message, the Corps says it is reducing the number of required command climate surveys to just one a year — citing recent feedback from the fleet that has spotlighted “survey fatigue," the message reads.

Before the new climate survey policy, a commander, depending on the unit, had to crank out the following: Commandant’s Command Climate Survey, or CCCS, Ground Climate Survey, Command Safety Assessment Survey, Maintenance Climate Assessment Survey, and the Administrative Support Personnel Assessment Survey, according to Maj. Craig Thomas, a spokesman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Those surveys were in addition to the command climate survey mandated by the fiscal year 2013 annual defense legislation, known as the Defense Organizational Climate Survey, or DEOCS.

“Under this construct, a unit in full compliance with all survey requirements for an 18-month command tour would take 5 DEOCS, 3 CCCS, and at least 3 additional surveys, and possibly as many as 6, depending on the type of unit,” Thomas told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.

Thomas said the new policy removes the CCCS survey and leaves in place the DEOCS as the only required climate survey. The two surveys, he added, generally covered the same climate factors and removing one would not result in the loss of valuable feedback.

While the Corps is looking to cut back on command climate surveys, they have been important tools for commanders to view how Marines perceive the command and issues within the unit.

Issues with command climate have also resulted in the removal of numerous Marine commanders for abusive, discriminatory or toxic work environments.

Moreover, the new Marine administrative message comes on the heels of the firing of four Marine commanders over the past several weeks. However, two of those incidents appear to be related to alcohol, and another may be linked to a training fatality.

In 2017, Col. Daniel P. O’Hora was fired by then-Training Command leader Brig. Gen. Jason Bohm, over what an investigation described as a “hostile” and “dangerous” command.

“I have never seen or heard of a Marine Corps command so broken and climate so hostile, the mental health of the members is at a dangerous level and if unchanged could result in heightened incidents to loss of life,” a memo from the Equal Opportunity Office to the commander of Training Command says. “Immediate intervention is needed to heal the command and return it to its once glory.”

Lt. Col. Armando Gonzalez , the former commander of Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 out of Yuma, Arizona, was fired after an investigation said the commander created a toxic work environment.

And reported that in 2018 five out of seven commanders were relieved over some equal opportunity concerns.

“It’s because of command climate, how they treat people, how they treat people of different genders,” then-Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Glenn Walters said, reported.

Equal opportunity concerns and biases can be spotlighted in command climate surveys.

The Corps contends its effort to streamline the climate surveys is also about obtaining better results.

“Statistical analysis of DEOCS shows having more people complete the DEOCS provides leadership with a more accurate picture of the organization’s climate,” Thomas said. “By reducing the amount of surveys on this topic, the Marine Corps seeks to improve the validity of the results through increased participation.”

Marines take at least three health surveys, a predeployment health screening, a post-deployment health assessment and a post-deployment health reassessment.

Officials says the three surveys are important in early detection of health issues like post traumatic stress.

The Corps has struggled to comply with deadlines requiring the health reassessment survey to be completed and certified within 90 to 180 days, according to a Navy audit.

The Marine Corps has argued that it is focused on survey completion rates, which have averaged around 75 percent for the past nine years. Completing the surveys within the required time frame is a bit of an administrative strain, officials say.

Some Marines also take unit specific surveys, which were not included in the administrative message and will be addressed at another time under a separate order.

While the Corps is reducing the number of command climate surveys, there are other ways Marines can provide feedback about their commands, which include speaking with members of your chain of command, chaplain or equal opportunity adviser, requesting mast, sending an anonymous email to the inspector general, or calling the NCIS tip line, Thomas said.

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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