Hundreds of thousands of American veterans have served in Afghanistan since 2001, and around 20,000 troops remain there today, though the number plummets daily with the abandonment of bases and the turnover of major installations to the Afghan government. By early next year, there will be only 9,800 American troops left in the country, a number that will be reduced by half no later than the end of 2015. According to the White House, it will be reduced again, effectively to zero, by the end of 2016.
So how are things going?
When it was reported at the beginning of October that three female Marine officers had passed the Combat Endurance Test (CET), the initial entry screener for the Corp’s challenging Infantry Officer Course, the news was widely reported. You can read about it here, here, here, here, here, and here.
The story was indeed news. Up to that point, of the 24 women who had attempted the CET, only one had passed, and she had reportedly later been dropped from the overall course for an injury. Struggling to get enough female officers into the course to produce a statistically significant result for its study of introducing women into combat roles, the Corps had directed that more seasoned female officers could attempt the course. Now three had made it over the first hurdle.
General James Amos, the 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, will come to the end of his term of office this week. Marines, as a matter of custom and temperament, are well known for revering their commandant. Difficult questions of doctrine or procedure within the Corps may be settled by asserting, without a shred of irony, that “the commandant wants it this way.” Famously the most disciplined of the services, this respectful and admiring deference for the leader is part of what it has traditionally meant to be a Marine.
Which makes it all the more strange that Jim Amos is so widely—and, on social media, openly—disliked by Marines.
Over the weekend there was a new outbreak of criticism about the man, inspired by an 80-page report prepared by a critic of the commandant, a former Marine and lawyer named Lee Thweatt.
The Marine Corps Times has the story: