Former Judge Advocate Calls For Marine Commandant’s Resignation Over Photo Scandal

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Retired Air Force officer and judge advocate Rachel VanLandingham called for Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller to be relieved of command over willful ignorance regarding the nude photo scandal.

In an op-ed for USA Today published Monday, VanLandingham argued that Neller’s failure to maintain the good order and discipline of the Marine Corps as it relates to the developing Marines United scandal, in which hundreds of Marines shared nude photos of female service members, should be met with removal.

For VanLandingham, that the scandal occurred in the first place is indicative the Marine Corps still harbors a culture of misogyny and hasn’t taken steps to ensure beyond non-punitive changes to social media policy to stop photo-sharing and “revenge porn” behavior.

Moreover, she’s convinced that not only is Neller ignorant of the scandal itself and of social media technology, he doesn’t particularly care all that much, either.

“That’s a weak excuse for doing nothing to protect his female Marines from such abuse and invasions of privacy,” Van Landingham wrote. “If the senior leader of the Marine Corps didn’t understand the problem, he should have educated himself or appointed others under his command to do so. Failure to do so epitomizes failure of command.”

“It seems clear that the commandant is more than simply ignorant of this criminal behavior: He is also apathetic,” VanLandingham added.

Still, even VanLandingham is doubtful her calls for firing will convince Secretary of Defense James Mattis to act, especially because she thinks that Mattis himself is part of the problem, since he opposed including women in combat positions in the Marine Corps.

“The idea of putting women in there is not setting them up for success,” Mattis said, speaking in 2014 of adding women to the infantry. “It would only be someone who never crossed the line of departure into close quarters fighting that would ever even promote such an idea.”

Neller is appearing Tuesday morning at a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing on the Marines United scandal and so far has not fared well under scrutiny from senators with questions about why he hasn’t taken steps to increase accountability after previous nude photo scandals, like the one in 2013.

Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blasted Neller during the hearing for “hollow” answers.

“Your answers are unsatisfactory. Who is being held accountable? Who?” she asked.

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