At Tuesday's Senate Armed Services committee hearing on the nude photo-sharing scandal that has tainted the Marine Corps, Commandant General Robert Neller noted that policy changes would be taking place to better protect female Marines. As for those who had been violated, he asked them to trust him in his quest to seek justice.
At least one member of the Senate committee seemed to doubt that the culture in the Marines would undergo a meaningful change as long as President Trump resides in the White House. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) suggested that male Marines are only emboldened by Trump's past controversial rhetoric about women. She asked Neller how he plans to initiate change in such an environment.
The entire exchange is below.
Sen. Hirono: "In terms of well changing the culture, how would you begin to even change the culture? This has been long-standing not just in the Marines but issues that involve all of our services so how do you even begin to change the culture when, for example, you have a commander-in-chief who exhibits certain attitudes toward women? How do you change the culture?"
Neller: "The only way I know how we’ve done this in the past when we’ve dealt with other issues and we accept the fact, I mean, there are always going to be those that are going to not be able to adjust and they’ll have to be, that’ll be addressed but I believe that most Marines join the Marine Corps to improve themselves, that they’re good and decent people and that they’ve got to understand that there are certain behaviors that we expect and that we recognize positively and there are others that we do not and part of that’s having a discussion it’s got to start at the beginning when they first see their recruiter and it has to be modeled throughout the organization and there are obviously those who are not modeling the culture that we want or there even condoning it so as the Sgt. Major said we’re going to go back, take a look at where it starts, for all Marines it starts at recruit training or it starts at Officer Candidate School and we’re going to look at how we talk about this, make sure they understand it but, as you say, at some point there has to be deterrence because there will, I would like to say we’d be a hundred percent successful but we probably will not so for those that are not able to comply there has to be deterrence."
I certainly hope Hirono is not blaming these Marines' lewd behavior on remarks Trump has made in years past. The leaked "Access Hollywood" tapes from 2005 were cringeworthy to hear, but they can hardly account for such an illegal breach of privacy in the military.
So far 10 female Marines have come forward as victims in the nude photo scandal. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched a full inquiry into the matter.