Department of the Navy: Not Good Enough?

The Marine Corps seems to have it own Tea Party movement: There is a bill in the House of Representatives to rename the “Department of the Navy” to the “Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.” While it might garner some additional awareness for the Boys’ Gun Club, proponents of the change seek parity with the Navy.

But there’s a down side to this equalizer, and bill backers don’t seem to see the Marine Corps may lose more than it gains.

The Marine Corps and the Navy both fall under the Department of the Navy. That top cover has been a sweet deal for the Marines. Equal footing could cost the Marine Corps people and money. The lean Marine Corps? No more! The Navy Department is saddled with tremendous administrative responsibilities, many the Corps has been able to avoid.

Legal and contracting are just two areas that could shift resources away from Corps Commandant Gen. James T. “Not in My Corps” Conway’s precious (and simple) priorities. Do movement supporters know what ball-and-chain possibly awaits? If we were the Navy, we’d say, “Great. Here’s the table of organization and required funding. You get the cubes in the basement. Welcome aboard.”

Point man of this assault on the Hill is North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones whose district includes sprawling Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Joining him is former Corps commandant Gen. Al “Only When There’s Trouble” Gray and Gen. Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM chief. Also involved are the Marine Corps Mafia (uh, League) and the Marine Parents Association.(Who?).  Star power comes in the form of R. Lee Ermey, a Marine Corps veteran and cable TV host who played the drill instructor (shot and killed by a recruit) in the movie “Full Metal Jacket.”

The bill, HR 24, has 370 cosponsors and was introduced in January 6, 2009. It appears it has been in committee since. Senate bill S 504 has two cosponsors and remains in committee. Though these bills may be going nowhere, this group may want to rethink its oddly placed priorities. Proponents of the change are whining the well-worn “recognition for our sacrifices” refrain. We believe they were paid for their service and already receive tremendous credit. We would hope they move on, otherwise the Boys’ Gun Club may become a bit less expeditionary.

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