- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2002

A Marine Corps general has recommended dismissing 11 officers for cheating on a communications test at a training base in Quantico, Va.
The decision by Brig. Gen. Leif Hendrickson comes at the end of an extensive investigation into cheating by second lieutenants in the 23-week Communications Information System Officer Course in late April at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
The command also has been investigating suspicions of cheating at the officer basic-training school in Quantico, the first stop for second lieutenants on their way to assignment in the fleet.
In one case, three officers were counseled for doctoring targets during firing-range testing to help schoolmates qualify.
"I'm sure they got a scolding," said Gen. Hendrickson, who commands Marine Corps Education Command at Quantico. "They didn't even know who was firing on their target It was dumb. It was bad judgment."
In the same company, the command also investigated whether Marines cheated on a take-home expeditionary-warfare test. The command targeted nine officers. Two admitted cheating and were to face administrative punishment by the basic school's top officer. The remaining seven were acquitted and graduated.
In the communications course for basic-school graduates, the command began an investigation after similarities appeared in a take-home test. Investigators initially determined that 12 officers might have collaborated, in violation of school policy.
Gen. Hendrickson said he met individually with the 12 before deciding punishment. He retained one officer in the Corps while recommending dismissal for the other 11. The general said 10 collaborated while one other officer relied on someone else's work.
Gen. Hendrickson said Navy Secretary Gordon England will make the final decision. The 11 students have the right to submit written rebuttals.
A Marine Corps source said one of 67 officers in the communication course reported the collaboration to higher-ups.
"I would define this as an aberration without a trend," Gen. Hendrickson said, referring to three cheating cases in the same time frame.
He said the school must maintain high ethical standards as an example for those the officers will lead.
"Our Marines will forgive us for many things, but they will not forgive us for a breach of honor or acts that place ourselves before them," he said. "These officers have forfeited their right to lead."
Quantico last dealt with a major cheating scandal in 1996.
The Corps conducted three investigations that implicated 35 second lieutenants in cheating on a land-navigation test.
The offending students made notes before the test about the locations of ammunition bases that were supposed to be found with a compass and map. The Marines discharged three ringleaders and handed administrative punishment to 10 others.

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