- The Washington Times - Monday, August 23, 2004

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) strongly endorses a proposal in the House version of the fiscal 2005 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to change the title of secretary of the Navy to secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps. Championed by Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, this measure would properly elevate the Marine Corps to a departmental standing within the defense establishment commensurate with the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The Corps has filled a unique niche in the nation’s history not duplicated by any of the other armed services. It provides exceptional and exclusive capabilities in concert with its sister services, in war and in peace. And the Corps, as the second-most-senior armed service, truly deserves the equitable distinction among its sister services in the U.S. defense structure.

The appointment of the position of the commandant of the Marine Corps as a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was sufficient to recognize the Corps as an armed service equal to the task of providing its opinion and recommendations on joint and combined operations with the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Subsequently, the appointment to the grade of general and assignment of a Marine as the assistant chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the appointment of the immediate past commandant of the Marine Corps as the NATO commander, and the appointment of a Marine four-star general to head the U.S. Strategic Command lends great credibility to the caliber of men who deserve their own military department.

The recent participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom proves further that the Corps merits recognition as a separate armed service with its own secretarial department. However, in view of the Navy-Marine Corps’ long tradition of serving side by side and the extraordinary expense of establishing a separate entity, a reasonable solution would be to change the title of secretary of the Navy to secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps.

Recognizing the Corps as an equal partner in a new Department of the Navy and Marine Corps gives the Marines the distinction and esteem they truly deserve. FRA applauds Mr. Jones, one of the staunchest allies to all men and women serving in uniform, for his leadership on this proposal, and urges all fiscal 2005 NDAA conferees to ensure it remains in the final draft of the legislation.

Sincerely,

Joseph L. Barnes

National Executive Secretary

Fleet Reserve Association

Dear Joe:

Ditto and hurrah to Mr. Jones, who has spearheaded this important initiative.

Shaft notes

• The Sarge is once again looking forward to joining fellow members of the National Press Club, other press representatives and guests for today’s club luncheon. This event will feature remarks from the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Hagee. I am sure he will pay tribute to our Marines serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and those warriors who have made the supreme sacrifice.

Gen. Hagee graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering. He also holds a master of science degree in electrical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and a master of arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College and the U.S. Naval War College.

• The Sarge commends the Bush administration for its latest initiative in the fight against youth drug abuse. Parent Corps is a new effort dedicated to helping parents prevent drug use by their children.

“We know that parents remain the most important influence on children, particularly when it comes to decisions about drugs,” said John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy. “The national fight against drug use must be fought on many fronts, and an early and active role by parents in drug prevention is critical to the success of that effort.”

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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