What is the Marine’s so-called ‘old corps’?

It’s a story as old as the military: someone always had it worse, things were harder, and that never happened back when [insert random old guy on Facebook] was in. That thought process isn’t unique to the U.S. Marine Corps, but they labeled Marines who think that way as the ‘old corps.’ 

But what exactly is the old corps?

It’s a loaded title that can mean a lot of different things, but boiled down to the basics, it’s a general distrust of younger generations because they have it easier or the training is soft nowadays

“As far as I can tell, the old corps is anything that happened before today. I think that every Marine seems to think that what they went through was the old corps,” said Maximilian Uriarte, creator of the hit webcomic “Terminal Lance.” “The nature of the military, it’s this cyclical thing where you have new people coming in all the time. Whatever they went through in boot camp is nothing like what you went through when you went to boot camp.”

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Why? Because they are old corps. 

Max Uriarte joined the Marine Corps in 2006 with a 0351 MOS and went on to deploy to Iraq twice while assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment out of Hawaii. He, almost by definition, is old corps. His regiment is deactivated, his MOS is no longer active, and he has two combat deployments.

Uriarte pointed to one of his webcomics titled “Old Timer” as an example of how some Marines look at other devil dogs as ‘old corps.’ 

What is the Marine’s so-called ‘old corps’?

The old corps term can be as simple as the spirit behind razzing your fellow Marine, or outside of the Marine Corps, your fellow veterans. 

Uriarte said there are harmless aspects to the ‘old corps’ mindset, like a rigid flat top haircut or how new Marines look up to the older, more experienced Marines. The term can be used to describe the appearance of a hard-charging Marine. 

But, there are more toxic aspects to the old corps mindset as well.

“Personally, I think, in general, it’s a toxic thing. It is what it is,” Uriarte said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s like the worst thing in the world. I do think that it tends to come up in toxic discourse more often than not.”

An active duty Marine Corps officer who is not authorized to speak on the record has been around several changes in the Marine Corps, including the integration of women into combat arms. She is an engineer and was one of the first women to work with infantry Marines.

“I got to work in my MOS and blow a lot of things up; I learned a lot there,” the Marine said. “I worked with the infantry really close. I was one of the first females to go there, and I encountered a lot of resistance, a lot of old corps thinking.”

She went on to help implement that integration and while leading a training program, she started getting calls from random Marines that questioned her ability to achieve physical training numbers, like 20 pullups. 

“These are Marines that would call me. I was a major at the time, and they’d be like, ‘Major [name]?’ I’d say ‘yes, this is her’,” the Marine said. They would say“‘You don’t know me, but I’m staff sergeant or sergeant so and so, and I was just wondering, you know, I read an article that said you could do 20 pull-ups can you do 20 in a row, or is that like five sets of five?”

She was later challenged about being able to do pull-ups based on just being an officer. But she and many other women in the military have proved they are very capable. The Marine said she believes the definition of ‘old corps’ is “simply a preference for how things used to be done around here.”

What is the Marine’s so-called ‘old corps’?
Maximilian “Max” Uriarte during a 2007 deployment to Iraq. He said it’s important to note he’s in a flight suit because it was back in the pre-FROG suit days. (Photo courtesy of Maximilian Uriarte).

From moving away from rolled sleeves to campaign covers for female Marine drill instructors or even changing to brown suede boots instead of the traditional black leather boots that required hand polishing. 

It wasn’t just men pushing back, though. Female drill instructors used to have a scarlet cord that signified their role, whereas male drill instructors had a campaign cover. When that was changed, female drill instructors wanted to keep their hard-earned scarlet cords. But, in the end, there’s not an old corps, or a new corps, just the Marine Corps.

The Marine said one of her captains recently pointed out to her what they thought was a problem within the ranks. 

“He said that the problem with Marines is they don’t like the status quo, but they also don’t like change. I would agree because we’ll bitch and bitch and bitch and complain about the status quo, but when it comes time to make a change, we will resist it just as fiercely, if not more, so,” the Marine said. “I think part of the reason is we know that, like all progress, requires change, but not all change is progress.”

She said the Marine Corps hasn’t always been effective in announcing and explaining changes to their Marines. A fear of the unknown and hesitation about change being helpful can lead to Marines resisting it. 

But, like the removal of tanks and Scout Snipers from the Marine Corps, change is inevitable and will likely continue as long as the military exists in order to keep pace with the evolution of warfare. 

Both Uriarte and the female Marine said the ‘old corps’ mentality will likely never go away. They pointed out that some traditions, like the Marine Corps birthday celebration, aren’t bad and are actually a great way to boost morale. 

“I think it’s okay to be skeptical but to be outright defiant, to stick your head in the sand, I think it’s not helpful,” said the Marine. “I think the issue, it really comes down to cohesion. If you don’t include and accept all members of your team, train them as a team, develop their weaknesses, and highlight their strengths, you’re not going to be as effective, right? So it’s all about cohesion.”

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Source link: https://taskandpurpose.com/culture/marines-old-corps/ by Joshua Skovlund at taskandpurpose.com