- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Marine Corps is acknowledging that the retiring commandant, Gen. James Amos, did not attend the Corps’ officers training school, though he told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a signed resume that he had graduated in 1972.

A Corps official told an inquiring congressman last week that Gen. Amos graduated from The Basic School on Feb. 28, 1977, through a correspondence course.

Corps officials portray the off-site attendance as within reason because he transferred to the Marine Corps from the Navy, which commissioned him as an officer in 1970. An aviator, Gen. Amos was commissioned a Marine officer in January 1972, the same resume indicates.

Gen. Amos’ resume containing the statement was provided to the Senate in 2010 as part of the confirmation process to four-star rank and commandant, the Corps’ top officer.

The Basic School is a rigorous, and required, rite of passage for young officers who for six months crawl and march in the mud, heat and cold of Quantico, Virginia. In the end, they are deemed indoctrinated into the Corps’ tradition-filled culture and basic war-fighting techniques.

Under “Education/qualifications,” Gen. Amos’ resume lists “The Basic School 1972.” Gen. Amos signed, and thus attested to the Senate, that the resume was “current, accurate and complete.”

PHOTOS: Top 10 U.S. fighter jets

Amid pomp and tradition, Gen. Amos, the 35th commandant, passes command to Gen. Joseph Dunford on Friday at the Marine Barracks parade grounds in Washington.

His tenure over the past two years has been marked by controversy over his intervention in criminal cases and his speeches to Marines on such matters.

In one speech, according to McClatchy Newspapers, Gen. Amos expressed disappointment that so few defendants were being kicked out of the Corps and asked “why have we become so soft” in sexual misconduct cases since 80 percent of charges are “legitimate sexual assault.”

Some defense lawyers banded together to accuse him of unlawful command influence and of prejudging charges in criminal cases.

One of them, L. Lee Thweatt, a former Marine Corps judge advocate, began investigating the general’s official resume. He could find no evidence that Gen. Amos attended The Basic School at the Virginia Marine base — no roster, no photographs, no certificate.

He said the Corps’ public affairs branch refused to answer his questions.
On Oct. 1, Mr. Thweatt sent a letter, with his findings, to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman.

PHOTOS: BOOM! U.S. military turns ISIS targets to rubble

He called on Mr. Hagel not to certify Gen. Amos as having successfully completed his four years as a four-star general because, in the lawyer’s opinion, he misled the Senate committee.

Mr. Thweatt’s investigation prompted Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, to ask the Corps whether Gen. Amos did, indeed, graduate from The Basic School.

A Corps public liaison official said in an email to a Jones aide that, “As discussed, [legislative affairs] informed me that Gen. Amos did not attend the Basic School in that he was an inter-service transfer from the Navy.”

As first reported by the Marine Corps Times, a Marine Corps officer telephoned the Jones aide Friday and told him that Gen. Amos graduated via correspondence courses in February 1977, five years after the date on his official resume.
The aide asked for proof. None had been provided as of Tuesday.

Maj. John Caldwell, a Marine spokesman, told The Washington Times that Gen. Amos “completed The Basic Officer Course via correspondence, which was common practice for pilots during the Vietnam era. Completion of professional military education requirements via correspondence is common practice today and is another method the Marine Corps uses to satisfy educational qualifications in circumstances preventing formal school attendance.”

Maj. Caldwell said the Corps would provide no other information.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Levin said he had no comment.

Mr. Thweatt also has filed a complaint with the Pentagon inspector general saying “there can be no doubt that Amos’ misrepresentations here were material to his confirmation.”

The inspector general has investigated other complaints against Gen. Amos and cleared him of wrongdoing.

A Marine lawyer whistleblower said Gen. Amos illegally intervened in the cases of eight Marines charged in connection with the infamous Taliban urination video in Afghanistan. The officer in charge of the judicial proceedings said Gen. Amos ordered him to “crush” the defendants, which the judge believed was out of line and which he refused to do.

The whistleblower also complained of retaliation, but the inspector general said the commandant’s office was within bounds to transfer him, order a mental health examination — which he passed — and urge him to turn in his licensed guns.

“To date, General Amos has faced no personal accountability for any of his misconduct,” Mr. Thweatt said in his letter to Mr. Hagel. “Instead, the Inspector General rubber-stamped General Amos’ unlawful command influence and worse, the Secretary of the Navy has applauded General Amos in the press.”

Mr. Thweatt wrote to the inspector general that, “A correspondence course for TBS is obviously not an adequate substitute for weeks and weeks spent in the forests of Quantico, digging fighting trenches, hiking and carrying an 80lb pack through snow, mud, rain and heat, firing and cleaning weapons, learning navigation and logistical skills, and generally preparing to lead Marines by actually leading Marines.”

On Friday, Mr. Jones, a strong critic of Gen. Amos’ conduct in the Taliban desecration case, wrote to Mr. Hagel to say that “misleading or falsifying information presented to Congress is a very serious charge.”

He said information about Gen. Amos and The Basic School “calls into question the integrity of not only the entire United States Marine Corps, but also of any person who has participated in this alleged cover-up.”

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide

Sponsored Stories