06/23/05 — Appalling: Top brass admits leadership failure

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Appalling: Top brass admits leadership failure

It was a sad state of affairs.

Two Marine Corps generals were meeting with the House Armed Services Committee. Members of the committee were concerned over why many vehicles being used by Marines in Iraq had not been reinforced with stronger armor.

The committee had specifically ordered the improvements early this year to better protect personnel from road bombs.

Now it had learned that two months had passed before contracts were even issued for the armor kits.

Committee members demanded to know why.

Brigadier General William Catto, chief of the Marine Corps Systems Command, had a succinct answer: “Lack of leadership on my part.”

The general should be given credit for his candor. But he also should be booted out of his position for dereliction.

As Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) put it: “It is a sad day when Marines are out there fighting with a sense of urgency while back here is reluctance to move with a sense of urgency.”

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) noted: “For two years we’ve watched the services struggle to provide enough protective armor.” And “without success.”

He called for more congressional oversight.

Oversight is important, of course. But Congress should not have to micro-manage the Systems Command.

The commandant of the Marine Corps should make certain his general officers are competent and efficient — and have the leadership abilities to carry out their responsibilities.

How many Marines had been killed and wounded because of the laxity of flag rank officers?

Published in Editorials on June 23, 2005 11:52 AM