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 Monday, November 10, 2008 22:12
 Honoring the USMC
Friends of FPRI,
Today marks the founding of the US Marine Corps on November 10, 1775,
and for the occasion I share with you "Ripley at the Bridge: Semper
Fidelis, My Friend," a recollection by Mackubin Thomas Owens, FPRI
Senior Fellow, who served 30 years in the Marine Corps and Marine
Corps Reserve.   This essay was originally posted on National Review
Online on November 7, 2008.   -- Regards, Alan Luxenberg
Ripley at the Bridge
Semper Fidelis, my friend.
By Mackubin Thomas Owens
National Review Online, November 7, 2008
America lost one of its truly great heroes over the weekend. Col. John
Ripley, United States Marine Corps (Ret.), a veteran of the Vietnam War,
died in Annapolis at age 69.  Unfortunately, this hero's name is far
well-known than that of William Calley of My Lai fame.
We Marines love our heroes, and we all know their names: Dan Daley,
Smedley Butler, John Basilone, etc.  But among those who populate this
select pantheon, none surpasses John Ripley and the legend of
"Ripley at the Bridge."
John graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1962, receiving a
in the Marine Corps.  In October of 1966, he assumed command of "Lima"
Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in Vietnam. During this tour
he was wounded in action and awarded the Silver Star medal for valor.
John had a successful career in the Marines, serving as an infantry
battalion and regimental commander. He also earned the "Quad Body"
distinction, graduating the Army's Rangers School (he is the only Marine
in the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame), the Army's Airborne school,
reconnaissance training, and Britain's Royal Marines training course.
But the action that would make John a legend occurred in 1972.  By
of that year, most of the American troops had left Vietnam, leaving only
advisers to the South Vietnamese military. He was one of them, a senior
adviser to the 3rd Battalion of the Vietnamese Marine Corps.
On March 30, 1972, the Peoples' Army of Vietnam - the North - abandoned
irregular warfare, launching the biggest conventional offensive of the
The "Easter Offensive" far exceeded the Tet Offensive of 1968 in scope.
Hoping to negate U.S. air power by taking advantage of the monsoon
they attacked with massive armor and artillery on 3 fronts, including
area south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).  On this northern front, one
division attacked directly south across the DMZ toward Quang Tri while
another assaulted eastward from Laos along Route 9, through Khe Sanh and
into the Quang Tri River Valley.
Caught by surprise, the South Vietnamese could only try to slow the
offensive, retreating south of the Cua Viet River at Dong Ha.  But
soldiers and 200 tanks from the North were poised to strike across the
river, and they were planning use a bridge defended by about 600
soldiers, who had been ordered to "hold and die."  John related later
he would never forget that order.  The only way to stop the North was to
destroy the bridge.  Fortunately, South Vietnamese engineers had placed
pounds of TNT and plastic explosives near the bridge.  But the
would still need to be placed properly to bring down the twin spans.
Aided by a U.S. Army officer, Maj. James Smock, John set up the
He had to expose himself to enemy fire while swinging hand over hand
the bridge's girder, with heavy loads of explosives slung over his
The odds against success seemed insurmountable.
As John observed later, "the idea that I would be able to even finish
the job
before the enemy got me was ludicrous."  However, "when you know you're
going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by
feeling that you're going to save your butt."  But John never lost his
of humor.  In his report, he observed: [The enemy,] rather than
their fire on me - and I certainly couldn't have made it through had
done so - they seemed to be watching incredulously as my body would
then disappear, hanging above the river.  The enemy watched with a
mixture of
what seemed to be humor and amazement.  In my judgment, they knew their
massive assault  would be successful and whatever I happened to be doing
relatively inconsequential; besides, I was providing them amusement.
According to John Miller, the author of The Bridge at Dong Ha, which
the battle and John's actions, "a lot of people think South Vietnam
have gone under in '72 had he not stopped them" by destroying the
No one has described John's actions better than my friend, Gerry Turley,
senior Marine adviser during the Easter Offensive in his book of the
same name.
John's actions constituted "an epic example of fortitude, extraordinary
bravery and personal resolve to defeat the enemy by fulfilling the last
even if it means losing [one's own life]."  For his actions at the Dong
Bridge, John was awarded the Navy Cross, the nation's second-highest
for valor.
On Saturday, November 8, I will join Marines throughout the globe to
the 233rd birthday of the Corps. It has become a tradition to set a
table with
an empty chair to honor those Marines who are absent.  I and many others
be thinking of John Ripley on this occasion.  Semper Fidelis, my friend.
- Mackubin Thomas Owens is a professor at the Naval War College in
Newport, R.I.
He served 30 years in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve,
service in Vietnam as an infantry platoon commander in 1968-69.
He is the editor of Orbis.
Alan Luxenberg
Foreign Policy Research Institute
1528 Walnut Street, Suite 610
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Tel. 215 732 3774, ext. 105

Created by


You just might be the Parent of a U. S. Marine...

    If you find yourself peaking around the corner before you turn down your street checking that no military vehicles are parked in your driveway and if you have nightmares about people wearing royal blue pants with a red stripe ringing your doorbell, ...
    you just might be the parent of a Marine serving in a combat zone.

    If you put out your flag everyday and find yourself wanting to rip the face off anyone who disrespects that symbol of our freedom, ..
    you just might be the parent of a U. S. Marine.
    If you feel guilty for wishing your son would get 'injured just a little bit' because that would mean he would be safe and comfortable in a hospital for a few weeks, ...
    you might be the parent of a deployed Marine.
If you get really mad at the ignorant idiots who insist that all this fighting is just not necessary and that the world would be at peace if the US would just mind its own business, ...
    you just might be the parent of a U. S. Marine whose life is on the line to protect the freedoms that these thankless bums take for granted.

    If you negotiate with God every night before bed and the first thing every morning that if he will just bring your son or daughter home safe, you will do absolutely anything, ...then you are the parent of a Marine stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    If you deliberately keep yourself very busy, every minute, every day for the sole purpose of distracting yourself from thinking that at that very moment someone, somewhere on the other side of the planet is shooting at your child, ... you just might have a Marine in a combat zone.

    If your shopping cart contains tuna fish, beef jerky, foot powder, Chapstick, playing cards, disposable shavers, car magazines, a pre-paid phone card and small children's toys, ... you just might be the parent of a Marine who is spending a lot of his time patrolling the streets of Iraq.

    If your son or daughter is halfway around the world fighting in 120 degree heat with 50 lbs of equipment on their back to preserve our country's freedom while your neighbor's smartass 20-year-old mouths off about our stupid military and you find you have to restrain yourself from slapping the crap out of him, ... you must be the parent of a U. S. Marine.

    If you feel like an extraordinarily good mother because you know that you would sell your very soul, right now, to buy just one hug from your deployed Marine, ... know that you are actually only the average Marine Mom.

    If you get calls at 3:00 am and barely recognize the voice of the child you raised between his satellite-delayed comments and then can't get back to sleep because you can't stop analyzing every word he said and kicking yourself for forgetting the things you tried to remember to ask, ... you are the parent of a U. S. Marine who is far from home.
    If you have memories of a tough, but precious little boy with a dirt-smeared face who idolized He-Man, always had a 'sword' in his belt, and a plastic knife in his boot and later played hockey or football (and definitely paintball) and now has a very pretty girlfriend, ... you just might have raised a U. S. Marine.

    If you are someone who hasn't penned a hand-written letter since the day email was invented, but now cranks them out daily, ... you just might be the parent of an active duty U. S. Marine.

    If your vehicle displays a yellow ribbon AND a red, white and blue ribbon, a USMC magnet, a blue star, a "Marine Mom" license plate holder and an American flag sticker, Semper Fi and OohRah!


 Military Searching for Camp Lejeune Marines Due to Health Risk
Military Searching for Camp Lejeune Marines Due to Health Risk
Reported by: Emily Baucum
Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008 @06:47am CST

(Bolivar, MO) -- Camp Lejeune in North Carolina is one of the largest Marine bases in the country.
That's usually a point of pride, but an internal investigation has the Marine Corps worried for all the people who visited the base over the years.
The Marine Corps tells KOLR10 News at least 500,000 could be at risk for health problems -- all because they drank the water.
Robert Stawarz says it was his duty to keep Camp Lejeune spotless during his two years there in the 1970s.
"Very, very clean. The U.S. Marine Corps, you know," he says. "Everything's immaculate."
The Vietnam-era veteran now lives in Bolivar, Missouri and thought his Marine days were over, until he checked the mail.
"I Received the letter from the IRS. I thought I was getting the letter from the IRS," he says.
Turns out the Marine Corps got his address from the IRS because he'd moved around so much.
"They had said that the IRS wasn't giving them any information about my taxes or anything like that and at first I thought it was kind of strange," Stawarz says.
The letter says that anyone who may have been on base at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987 could be affected because of chemicals found in the drinking water.
"When I got to the part about the bad water my jaw kind of hit the floor," Stawarz  (right) says.
The Marine Corps tells him the chemicals originated from a building used to wash clothes.
"It was used in dry-cleaning and for de-greasing and somehow it got in the water," Stawarz says. "I guess they didn't really discover what was going on until the early 1980s."
The Marine Corps is now conducting a water study to pinpoint who exactly is at risk, and for what.
"I don't know what it does, if it causes cancer or it makes your fingers fall off," Stawarz says.
Stawarz was directed to a website to upload his contact information.
"I registered and they said they would let me know and in two months they would contact me," he says.
The Marine Corps tells KOLR10 more than 88,000 people have registered.
Stawarz says that's only a fraction of the veterans who could be affected, so he's getting the word out to his fellow marines.
"We're Marines until we die," he says.
The Marine Corps shut down the contaminated wells in 1985 and notified people who lived on base at that time.
But their records back to the 1950s are incomplete so we're told the Marines are working to build that registry to include former residents who have moved around or people who may have had friends on base and been exposed to the water.
If you or someone you know could be part of the group at risk, the Marine Corps is asking you register their information. You can call (877) 261 - 9782 or visit

General Praises Exonerated Haditha Marine
Phil Brennan, NewsMax
Friday, Aug. 10, 2007

In exonerating Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt of all charges against him arising out of the incident in Haditha in November 2005 including murder, Lt. Gen. James Mattis praised the young Marine who is among the Marines who were accused of cold-blooded murder by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.

As correspondent Nat Helms has written, Murtha publicly labeled the Marines cold-blooded murderers and liars who covered up the crime to protect their skins last year. He repeatedly told reporters interviewing him on CNN and other news outlets that he obtained his evidence from the Time magazine stories, which he failed to explain were based on statements by two known insurgent propagandists.

After agreeing with the Investigating Officer's recommendation that all charges against Sharratt, a veteran of the bloody battle of Fallujah in 2004 and the insurgent ambush in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, Mattis assured Sharratt that he could reflect with satisfaction over his service in Iraq.

"You have served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq where our nation is fighting a shadowy enemy who hides among the innocent people, does not comply with any aspect of the law of war, and routinely targets and intentionally draws fire toward civilians," Mattis wrote in his decision.

"Operational, moral and legal imperatives demand that we Marines stay true to our own standards and maintain compliance with the law of war in this morally bruising environment," he said.

"With the dismissal of these charges, you may fairly conclude that you did your best to live up to the standards ... In the face of life or death decisions made by you in a matter of seconds in combat."

In recommending that the charges against Sharratt be dropped, Lt. Col. Paul Ware who conducted the grand jury-like Article 32 hearings found that murder charges brought against Sharratt were based on unreliable witness accounts, insupportable forensic evidence and questionable legal theories.


"The government version is unsupported by independent evidence," he wrote in his report to Mattis.

"To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary."

Prosecutors had charged that Sharratt and other members of his battalion went on a rampage and killed Iraqi civilians after a roadside bomb killed a fellow Marine. Sharratt said the Iraqi men he confronted were insurgents and at least one was armed with AK-47 rifle when he shot him.

Ware maintained that prosecution of Sharratt could set a "dangerous precedent that ... May encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and its mission in Iraq."

"Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy," Ware said.

Here is Mattis's statement concerning his decision to drop all charges against Sharratt in the Haditha murder case:

"The events of November 19, 2005 have been exhaustively reviewed by Marine, Army, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigators. An independent Article 32 Investigating Officer has considered all the facts and determined that the evidence does not support a referral to court-martial for LCpl Sharratt. Based on my review of all the evidence in this case and considering the recommendation of the Article 32 officer, I have dismissed the charges against LCpl Sharratt.

"LCpl Sharratt has served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq where our Nation is fighting a shadowy enemy who hides among the innocent people, does not comply with any aspect of the law of war, and routinely targets and intentionally draws fire toward civilians. The challenges of this combat environment put extreme pressures on our Marines. Notwithstanding, operational, moral, and legal imperatives demand that we Marines stay true to our own standards and maintain compliance with the law of war in this morally bruising environment.

"The experience of combat is difficult to understand intellectually and very difficult to appreciate emotionally. One of our Nation's most articulate Supreme Court Justices, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., served as an infantryman during the Civil War and described war as an 'incommunicable experience.' He has also noted elsewhere that 'detached reflection cannot be demanded in the face of an uplifted knife.'

Marines have a well earned reputation for remaining cool in the face of enemies brandishing much more than knives. The brutal reality that Justice Holmes described is experienced each day in Iraq, where Marines willingly put themselves at great risk to protect innocent civilians. Where the enemy disregards any attempt to comply with ethical norms of warfare, we exercise discipline and restraint to protect the innocent caught on the battlefield. Our way is right, but it is also difficult.

"With the dismissal of these charges LCpl Sharratt may fairly conclude that he did his best to live up to the standards, followed by U.S. Fighting men throughout our many wars, in the face of life or death decisions made in a matter of seconds in combat. And as he has always remained cloaked in the presumption of innocence, with this dismissal of charges, he remains in the eyes of the law - and in my eyes - innocent."

Lt. Gen. James Mattis also dismissed charges against Capt. Randy Stone in the Haditha case.

"I have thoroughly reviewed and considered all of the evidence surrounding the Haditha incident and Captain Stone's conduct with respect to command reporting of and response to the incident," Gen. Matttis wrote. "It is clear to me that any error of omission or commission by Captain Stone does not warrant action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

He concluded his statement by writing "Now that his case is resolved, I know that he will continue to serve with motivation and dedication, and with the understanding that he has much to contribute to the success of his unit and the Marine Corps."


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       To the Marines convinced they weren't violating a real regulation even while getting chewed out for keeping their hands in their pockets or wearing a cell phone on their belt - listen up.

       The Corps released 36 new regulations this month officially banning both practices, as well as many others, in its first revision to grooming standards in more than a decade. Mary Boyt, the Marine Corps Uniform Board's program manager, said the service wanted to provide
clear rules instead of leaving certain unofficial standards up to interpretation. The update was needed to stem an onslaught of calls the board has received on topics ranging from female buzz cuts to what bags can be worn while in uniform.

       The 36 regulations - which provide guidance on old standards and spell out new ones - went through a nearly yearlong gauntlet of review boards and surveys. Commandant Gen. James Conway signed off on the new
regs July 11, making them effective from that date, although they weren't announced until Aug. 1.

       Cell phones aren't the only thing Marines can no longer wear on their uniforms. The Corps added "tobacco pouches/canisters, visible barrettes [except in physical training situations], and keychains/lanyards/security badges [except as required by the command in the work environment]" to its list of banned items. That means you can't tuck your can of chewing tobacco between your goggle strap and helmet, or use the watertight pouches often attached on the front of body armor.

       However, cell phones can be stored in pockets instead of worn on belts, Boyt said. "This was important because a lot of people go outside to get a signal on their phone," she said.

       But walking and talking on your phone is forbidden, according to the new regs, even if you're using an earpiece. "If it's that important, Marines will have to stop and talk while standing still," Boyt said. Marines also officially can no longer drink or keep their hands in their pockets while walking in uniform. In the field, Boyt said the
rules can change, and if a Marine doesn't have his gloves, he should use common sense and use his pockets. But doing so is not authorized in garrison. The same regulation states Marines may not use electronic devices such as iPods while walking or running in uniform unless the
local commander allows it.

       Unlike Army and Air Force policies, the Corps prohibited wearing nonissued bags while in uniform. Marines may carry computer bags or gym bags in their hands but are not authorized to wear them over their
shoulders or on their backs, even if they match the color of their uniform, Boyt said.

       Hair and jewelry: Several of the new regs deal with what's under your cover. Hairstyles such as the teardrop, horseshoe and Mohawk were officially banned for male Marines. Many Marines already considered haircuts such as the Mohawk forbidden, but senior noncommissioned
officers wanted it in writing, Boyt said. Women's hairstyles are also covered. In response to a number of female Marines shaving their heads in Iraq, the board decided to define how short a woman's hair can be, Boyt said.

       During the review process, the board received feedback from male officers who wanted women to maintain feminine hairdos to ensure "they could tell the difference between their male and female Marines," Boyt
said. The new regulation states women must have hair longer than a quarter-inch from the scalp. Women with long hair also received guidance; hair in buns may not extend more than three inches from the scalp and can be no wider
than the woman's head.

       "Realistically, everyone needs to put that helmet on and go," Boyt said. The Corps nixed the trend of wearing class rings or "door knockers" alongside a wedding band. Marines may wear only one ring per hand and no rings on their thumbs. However, an engagement ring and wedding band count as one, Boyt said.

       The Corps already banned male Marines from wearing earrings in uniform but has now officially forbidden wearing them in civvies. Previously, it was just assumed the ban in uniform would carry over, but it was never officially addressed, Boyt said. The reg also specifies that female Marines may wear only one earring per ear in both uniform and civvies.  Women's fingernails are now limited to a quarter-inch past the fingertip, though French manicures are allowed. The regs also clarify what nail polish and makeup colors are acceptable.

       The board broke up the regulations between the two genders, with an extra emphasis on ensuring female standards were well-defined, Boyt said. She said she had received multiple complaints from Marines saying the old female regulations were too vague. To bolster this new
initiative, the Corps added more women to the review boards.

       Civilian attire: The uniform board struggled with how to define what a Marine may wear in his off hours without going back to the days of mandating khakis and a colored shirt, Boyt said. But the new regulations tried to eradicate the "gangsta" look, she added. When wearing trousers with belt loops, Marines must wear a belt, according to
the new regs. Trousers are defined as any pants or shorts, including jeans, Boyt said. Any civilian clothing revealing the "midriff," "buttocks" or "excessive amounts of chest/cleavage" was also banned.

       Decorative orthodenture is also covered under the regs. Marines with "platinum grills" or any other platinum or gold dental caps used for "purposes of ornamentation" must be removed. Waivers may be issued by commanders to Marines who received permanent gold or platinum caps
before Oct. 1 of this year, according to the regulation.

 Monday, April 21, 2008 8:59
Subject: Sending in the Marines (to Recruit Women)
April 21, 2008
Sending in the Marines (to Recruit Women) By DOUGLAS QUENQUA THE Marines
are looking for a few good women.
Actually, they will take as many as they can get. Faced with the
difficulty of recruiting during a long and unpopular war, the United
States Marine Corps has started marketing itself to women in a concerted
way for the first time. It is running ads in magazines like Shape, Self
and Fitness, which appeal mainly to female readers, as well as through
more mainstream outlets like "American Idol
_idol/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier> ," where the message is a unisex
one of patriotism rather than macho swagger.
The Marine Corps still runs its traditional ads - during National
Basketball Association and National Hockey League games, and in
magazines like Sports Illustrated and Men's Fitness - often showing male
recruits parachuting from airplanes, wielding big guns, driving heavy
tanks and stampeding across the ground.
But now it is also showing a softer side. In the latest campaign, a
print ad shows a female marine striking a martial arts pose in front of
a crowd of men who are looking up to her as their leader. The tag line:
"There are no female marines. Only marines."
The campaign is a big departure for the Marine Corps, which started
accepting women for clerical duties in 1918 but until last year
advertised to them only fitfully. During World War II, the most
memorable recruitment ads aimed at women came from the Army and the
In 1973, when the military dropped the draft in favor of a volunteer
force, the Marines introduced its "few good men" slogan and ran at least
one spot for women, reaching out to high school graduates and "college
gals" with a brochure that had a picture of a flower on it.
In the 1990s, when the Marines Corps was having trouble reaching
recruitment goals, it ran a scattering of ads in magazines like
Seventeen and Sports Illustrated for Women, using tag lines like "You
can look at models, or you can be one" and "Get a makeover that's more
than skin deep." That outreach "wasn't as sophisticated as it is now,"
said Jay Cronin, management director of JWT, a unit of the WPP Group
.com/custom/nyt-com/html-companyprofile.asp&symb=WPPGY> , which has been
the Marine Corps' advertising agency for more than 60 years.
Mr. Cronin said the current effort was much different because everyone
involved took the time to "understand the psychographics," that is,
figuring out which women might actually want to join the military, and
why. That is why the campaign aims at athletic women, not just all women
graduating from high school, and the messages conveyed are much more
Although most combat jobs are off-limits to them, women make up 6.2
percent of the Marine Corps and go through the same basic training as
"We had never done much female outreach," said Lt. Col. Mike Zeliff,
assistant chief of staff for marketing and advertising for the Marines
Corps in Quantico, Va. "but there was an opportunity for us to go after
the athletic, young woman who would be well suited to graduate from boot
camp. We asked ourselves, 'What can we do to get the message out to
these young women?' "
Women are not the only ones being courted specifically. The Marines
Corps is reaching out to Latinos with ads in La Raza newspaper that
emphasize family and honor ("Each unit in the Corps is a family, and
each member knows they never stand alone"), and to Arab-Americans with a
message about nationality and identity ("I am American. I am Arab. I am
a Marine ... I know where I stand").
"We never used to have much of a targeting strategy - we were just
looking for 18-24-year-old men" said Colonel Zeliff. "Today, we are more
niche than ever."
Given the drumbeat of bad news from the lingering conflicts in
Afghanistan and Iraq, where American military casualties recently topped
4,000, the sell can be a tough one. Sentiment against recuiting has
flared on some campuses, as well as in Berkeley, Calif., where the City
Council approved a measure in February asking Marine recruiters to
vacate their downtown office.
Dana Balicki, national media coordinator for Code Pink, a women's peace
group, called the Marine campaign "just another example of potentially
misleading tactics used to sell the war to young people, and especially
young women."
Talking specifically about the print ad that shows a woman in a
leadership role, Ms. Balicki said, "She's supposed to look like she's
being empowered, but she's in a typical self-defense stance. After
knowing the statistics and talking to women who have experienced sexual
trauma or violence in the military, it's hard to think of it as
As opposition against the war continues, Congress has ordered the
Marines and the Army to augment their forces. All branches of the
military have been reaching out to nontraditional audiences, but none
have done so quite as emphatically as the Marine Corps, which is the
fourth-largest of the five branches (the Coast Guard is the smallest).
Its advertising budget is $157.4 million this year, up from $152.4
million in fiscal year 2007.
The ad featuring a woman commander is intended to appeal to young women
who are weary of being separated from boys and men in sports and are
eager to prove themselves on a larger stage, said Marshall Lauck, JWT's
lead executive on the Marines account.
"The message is that the Marine Corps offers a unique opportunity to
earn that title and be shoulder to shoulder with your male
counterparts," Mr. Lauck said. "That's an important aspect for the young
women seeking that challenge, women seeking an opportunity for a great
and selfless endeavor."
The Marines also broke from tradition earlier this year by running a
60-second spot during several episodes of "American Idol." Titled
"America's Marines," the ad featured marines standing in formation
against various national landmarks. It was intended to appeal to a
general audience, including parents and other people whom military
recruiters refer to as "influencers."
That ad "helped us get that female audience that we're looking for,"
said Steve Harding, a partner at the Marine Corps' media agency,
MindShare (which places ads), which is also part of WPP.
The effect of the publicity is difficult to measure. There has been a
small increase in the number of female recruits - to 2,507 in 2007 from
2,320 in 2006 and 2,282 in 2005- but the Marine Corps says it is
particularly pleased by the volume of responses to the campaign. The
magazine ads include reply cards, and, Mr. Harding said, they yielded
more than 1,044 "qualified leads" in 2007, though only two turned into
One is Ana Castillo, a senior at William Chrisman High School in
Independence, Mo., who mailed in a reply card last September after
seeing an ad in a women's fitness magazine in the waiting room of a
doctor's office. Her older brother is a Navy veteran, and while she had
been seriously considering joining the military, the ad prompted her to
take action.
Ms. Castillo seems to be precisely the kind of young woman being sought
by the advertising. She plays soccer and softball at high school and
says she is hungry to prove herself on more dangerous fields.
"The Marines are the toughest," she said in a telephone interview. "They
have the longest boot camp, the highest standards. The Marines want
people to actually want to be in the Marines, not just be in it for the
It was those traits that Ms. Castillo saw reflected in the magazine ad,
as well as in the words of the recruiter who called her a week after she
mailed the reply card. She will turn 18 on June 24 and plans to leave
for boot camp on July 7, after her high school graduation.
While the Marines seem to be taking the lead, other branches of the
military are increasing their niche efforts as well. The Navy, for
example, has started using the Web to recruit women for nontraditional
jobs like aviation mechanics, placing banner ads on portals like Yahoo
tml?inline=nyt-org>  and movie and video game Web sites.
"We did e-mail blasts to women only, and what we found was lots of women
out there have an interest" in joining the Navy, but they did not know
what jobs were available to them, said Kathleen Donald, an executive
vice president and account director with Navy's ad firm, Campbell-Ewald,
a unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies
_of_companies_inc/index.html?inline=nyt-org> .
Although military officials cite a number of reasons for their
recruiting woes - high obesity rates in America, for example, and young
people's shifting attitudes toward military service - the fact is that
the images from the battlefront are hard to counteract.
"We're in the midst of a very difficult war, and the ground forces are
taking a pounding," said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer and
military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a research firm.
"I think what the Marine Corps is finding is that even recruiting for a
small force in the midst of an unpopular war is becoming something of a
challenge," he said. "They can no longer ignore people purely on the
basis of demographic or inscriptive characteristics."
Maj. Wes Hayes, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command,
said in response to Mr. Thompson's comment, "Look at our fiscal year
missions. Since May 2005, we've met or exceeded our recruiting goals.
Remember, recruiting is a marathon and not a sprint."
Ms. Castillo said her parents needed some persuading to let her join,
despite her brother's experience in the Navy.
"My mom, well, I'm her little girl," she said. "She wants me to go to
school. My dad was proud. He wanted me to go into the military, but he
wants me to go into the Air Force."
Like anyone entering the Marine Corps today, Ms. Castillo is keenly
aware of where she is probably headed. "I'm O.K. with it," she said. "If
I get sent to Iraq, I'm going to be ready."



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