13 USMC Lts Discharged for Cheating

#1
It pains me to post this but at least our system seems to work to weed out those who cannot be trusted. I find it really incredible that we had even considered the football player who obviously has little idea about integrity. I hope the government pursues recovery of the cost of his education to us taxpayers.

All in all quite disgusting.....


13 booted for cheating on TBS test

Offender questions need to learn land nav


By Amy McCullough

amccullough@militarytimes.com

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — Thirteen second lieutenants, including two former football players from the Naval Academy, have been kicked out of the Corps after officials uncovered cheating at The Basic School here.

The officers, eight men and five women assigned to the school's Echo and
Charlie companies, were administratively discharged May 20 for allegedly
using cheat sheets on their final land navigation exercise last fall,
Marine officials said. Two of the officers were prior-enlisted Marines.

The scandal came to light in September after instructors compared current
answer sheets to those used on previous tests and discovered that several
wrong answers matched correct answers on the old test, Col. George W. Smith Jr., TBS commander, told Marine Corps Times.

The instructors alerted Smith to their findings, and the command launched an investigation days later. Officials deter¬mined the Marines had received an answer sheet from a previous exam, although it's not clear how it was distributed, Smith said. Smith recommended that all 13 Marines tied to the scam be administratively discharged. That decision, he said, was approved by the commanding generals of Training and Education Command and Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Commandant Gen. James Conway and by Juan Garcia, assistant secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

The commandant has made it clear that we can tolerate many things, but not integrity violations, said Lt. Col. Matthew McLaughlin, a Marine spokesman based at the Pentagon. Personal integrity is the heart of Marine Corps leadership.

Newly commissioned officers attend six months of school at TBS,
where they learn how to lead an infantry platoon. The curriculum includes 90½ hours of classroom study, where students learn timeless fundamental skills such as how to use a protractor and a map to track coordinates and how to use terrain association to keep from getting lost, said Maj. Jeffrey Landis, a spokesman for TBS. They then complete 41 hours in the field, which concludes with a final practical examination in which students have seven hours to make their way through 14 square miles of complicated, wooded terrain where they must locate 10 boxes, or ammo cans. Smith said instructors regularly switch the location of those boxes with hopes of preventing the junior officers from cheating.

Officials declined to release the names of the Marines who were discharged, but former Naval Academy fullback 2nd Lt. Adam Ballard told Marine Corps Times that he was one of the 13 who got busted. He said the problem is more widespread than the Corps wants people to believe, but that officials found only one answer key, so they didn't have enough evidence to separate other lieutenants.

Although Ballard plans to fight the ruling, he also admitted he has been
talking to the NFL about going pro. Everyone has character flaws. I'm not saying what I did was right or should go without punishment,” Ballard said. I did have a moment of weakness, but I guess I'm facing the consequences of that. A source with knowledge of academics at the academy said the former star player finished his four years despite several failed classes and at least one honor code violation— claims Ballard does not deny. He says he sometimes struggled to balance
the rigors of academy academics against the demanding schedule of a varsity athlete, adding that the honor code violation was later dropped.

It's unclear who the second football player is, or what his academic
standing was at the academy, but as academy graduates who do not fulfill
their service commitments, both will be billed for the cost of their
education.

Smith said he is unaware of prior ethical violations among the officers tied
to the scandal, saying that did not play into his decision. While proficiency with a lensatic compass is important, their moral compass is of utmost importance to our Corps. Their moral compass must unerringly point to do the right thing at all times. Without that, in my strongest opinion, they don't have the foundation to continue to serve as Marine leaders, he said.

Why bother?

Smith said at least one of the lieutenants investigated told officials he
didn't understand the need to learn land navigation skills when technology, such as GPS, could do the work for them.

Apparently, he's not alone.

The command began checking current answer sheets against older master sheets a few years ago after similar allegations surfaced against a group of warrant officers attending their four-month training course at TBS. Even though there wasn't enough evidence to support the claims, officials took the allegations seriously.

Sixteen officers were busted in yet another land nav cheating scam in 1995.

Smith cautioned Marines about taking technology for granted and said land
navigation is a vital part of Marine leadership.

Technology is not infallible, he said. At the point of friction, you may
not have a GPS signal, yet you are still required as a unit commander to
know where your Marines are at all times and to be able to get them to
safety.

Staff writer Philip Ewing contributed to this report




Copyright © 2010 All content, Army Times
 
#2
How hard is that Nav test!? Integrity is a major ethos of many, if not most services. I am surprised they didn't get an opportunity to admit it and get back coursed though. Instant dismissal seems a bit of a harsh punishment for this IMHO.
 
#3
If you can't even cheat properly without getting caught then what use are you going to be in the services. Feckers would never have got through a tiffy course!
 
#6
box-of-frogs said:
How hard is that Nav test!? Integrity is a major ethos of many, if not most services. I am surprised they didn't get an opportunity to admit it and get back coursed though. Instant dismissal seems a bit of a harsh punishment for this IMHO.
IMHO, it really does not matter how hard the test is. The point is one of honor and at least for USMC officers expected to set the example for their Marines, it must (and should always be) ZERO TOLERANCE. They can go do something else with their lives where such values are less important. I can but hope we hold the line in this area against the ever eroding "standard" of our "culture" that in effect says if you are not caught then you have done nothing wrong. Such attitudes are a natural result of the situational ethics that have been so popular for the last 50 years or so.
 
#7
52niagra said:
Trouble is `Cheating` showed initative. Is that something not nutured in the US?
Big difference in my view.
 
#8
jumpinjarhead said:
52niagra said:
Trouble is `Cheating` showed initative. Is that something not nutured in the US?
Big difference in my view.
Mine too.

These men and women would sooner or later have been given positions of responsibility affecting not just the livelihoods and careers of others, but likely command in operational situations. And, given the extreme sensitivity inherent in modern operations, those in command need to hold and demonstrate a corresponding level of personal integrity at all times.

While it’s sad that this sort of thing occurs it’s admirable that action has been taken and in such a public way. It does the USMC no injustice at all.
 
#9
Honour and integrity are fine. My concern with the US take on the subject is when it leads to telling tales on your supposed comrades. At best its unpleasant - at worst it leads a sense of isolation and every man for himself. Our version - for minor failings - would be to deal with the problem informally and internally. I saw a very good young Captain in US Army Intel lose his career over an off-duty Christmas day beer for his team. He was informed on by his deputy. Miserable cow !
 
#12
The most important prerequisite of a leader - after courage - is integrity. Those cheating recieved their just desserts. Sad to hear of this incident, the Marines I know, former and active, epitomise integrity in all they do.
For all the comments alluding to being caught as a greater sin than actually cheating....bollocks. During my service I recall only one fellow officer cheating/lying, not such a coincidence he also lacked courage on operations, his Jocks detested him - last I heard he was in jail.... best place for him.
 
#13
Could this just be another part of the worldwide conspiracy to try and convince everyone that officers are taught to read a map?
 
#14
saladin said:
Honour and integrity are fine. My concern with the US take on the subject is when it leads to telling tales on your supposed comrades. At best its unpleasant - at worst it leads a sense of isolation and every man for himself. Our version - for minor failings - would be to deal with the problem informally and internally. I saw a very good young Captain in US Army Intel lose his career over an off-duty Christmas day beer for his team. He was informed on by his deputy. Miserable cow !
Again an integrity issue is different from a possible mistake of balancing initiative and judgment as it sounds like in the case of the Army Captain (depending on the details such as if he lied about it etc.). I am definitely not one of "zero defects" for young leaders in learning their craft and actually encourage such "stretching" so vital in new leaders finding their bearings.

In a more fulsome answer to an earlier post about initiative etc., if the exercise had been a ""E&E" scenario etc. where creativity, boldness and initiative are needed, then that is altogether different. Even if one sets aside the inherently more important aspect of honor and integrity, in this case, however, there are specific rules established in a school setting since the students need to really learn critical skills that if not learned could jeopardize the mission. "Lost" units rarely take their assigned objectives on time and without screwing up the maneuver of adjacent units etc. and/or get Marines needlessly killed later in their careers.

In addition, the students are being evaluated against each other in a very competitive environment that will have significant consequences in terms of the eventual specialties to which the officers are later assigned and it is not fair to their classmates and also can skew the evaluation of their skills etc. such that someone otherwise unqualified to be an infantry officer (due to weakness in field skills such as land navigation) could be assigned in error and the mistake may only be realized later in a mission-critical or life or death situation.

All that being said, the key is still that for leaders expected in our culture to lead from the front by personal example, a failure in character as occurred here goes to the very heart and soul of our system and cannot be tolerated. IMHO it is even more important to have this standard for what some may see as "trivial" circumstances since if an officer will lie or cheat as occurred here in such situations, it is even more likely he or she will do it if the stakes are even higher. Compromise of one's honor is cumulative in that once you start, the next temptation becomes even easier to rationalize. We see this effect quite clearly and dramatically in the society at large.

Given the sacred trust placed in our military forces under our Constitution and especially for commissioned officers who take a very specific oath in that regard and whose commissions expressly convey "special trust and confidence" in the holders, there simply can be NO compromise on this point and this is one area where the military (and the USMC by tradition even more so) must march to the beat of a different drum from the civilian society from which its members come.
 
#15
AT55 said:
Could this just be another part of the worldwide conspiracy to try and convince everyone that officers are taught to read a map?
A very deep observation and one I continue to worry about in this age of electronic aids, whether for navigation in the dark of night over inhospitable and enemy filled terrain or in the marital bedroom. We lose our field skills such as land navigation etc. by over-reliance on electronic aids at our own peril ans my experience proves to me that Murphy is alive and well on exercise and in combat such that if something can go wrong it likely will at some point and that includes GPS, optics on weapons etc.

I admit to being a veritable dinosaur on many issues and land navigation, like marksmanship is one of them. I made it a point to ensure that all my young officers were thoroughly drilled (by capable and experienced NCOs) on land navigation in all weather and terrain conditions BEFORE they ever led their own troops in the field. There are few worse things short of incompetence in combat that will ruin a leader's chances of earning the respect (obedience can be demanded but not respect) of his or her troops than getting them lost.
 
#16
I can't help but comment to this ridiculous story ...

... Rant begins ...

There is no way a proffessional organisation will pump thousands and thousands of dollars in the selection, vetting and training of the correct calibre of person - then bin them straight away for cheating on a NavEx!?!?! Something must be missing from this report, or the HQ doing the discharging is on drugs!!

The appropriate punishment would have been disciplinary action consisting of a healthy donation to some Veterans Charities and crap jobs around the base, until such time that the miscreants can join a follow up course - and do the whole lot again, but this time with extra special attention from the instructors. Not given room to fart, never mind cheat!!

No-one in their right state of mind throws away future talent just like that, not after the rigorous selection course they passed to get there in the first place.

The attitude of those authorities stink - we are all humans and we will all make a mistake, or an error of judgement if you like, at some point in our lives.

So, what happens in this "law abiding state/facility/USMC" if you do something like - Adultery??? Is the appropriate punishment hanging, stoning, or castration??


Apologies for going on and on, but such 'righteousness' grips my s#*t!!

Rant over ......... :oops:
 
#17
madflags said:
I can't help but comment to this ridiculous story ...

... Rant begins ...

There is no way a proffessional organisation will pump thousands and thousands of dollars in the selection, vetting and training of the correct calibre of person - then bin them straight away for cheating on a NavEx!?!?! Something must be missing from this report, or the HQ doing the discharging is on drugs!!

The appropriate punishment would have been disciplinary action consisting of a healthy donation to some Veterans Charities and crap jobs around the base, until such time that the miscreants can join a follow up course - and do the whole lot again, but this time with extra special attention from the instructors. Not given room to fart, never mind cheat!!

No-one in their right state of mind throws away future talent just like that, not after the rigorous selection course they passed to get there in the first place.

The attitude of those authorities stink - we are all humans and we will all make a mistake, or an error of judgement if you like, at some point in our lives.

So, what happens in this "law abiding state/facility/USMC" if you do something like - Adultery??? Is the appropriate punishment hanging, stoning, or castration??


Apologies for going on and on, but such 'righteousness' grips my s#*t!!

Rant over ......... :oops:
Actually there is an offense for adultery in our military criminal code and yes officers have been dismissed form the service for violating it.

And I stand fully by my previous post that the result, while regrettable to all concerned, was the right one. In spite of the way the officers involved may try to characterize it, cheating in this way was not a mere "drive by" act done on the spur of the moment or where the standards are not clear (the expectation of Marine officers to adhere to an admittedly and unabashedly rigid code of honor is one of the first matters they are apprised of when they begin their training) but was necessarily the result of at least some time to deliberate and they simply and unfortunately chose the wrong way.
 
#19
Got to say, all the USMC officers I've ever met have been straight out of the top drawer on the integrity front and the soldiers have definitely been a cut above the norm.

With the issue of cheating being 'initiative', there is a notable difference between your driver removing track from the far side of your buddy's wagon whilst you challenge him to a race across the area, or the instructor going out of the room for 2 mins on some bone box ticking test, and setting up a system to enable those who cannot navigate to become teeth arm platoon commanders.

Readying myself for more 'Ruperts with maps' jokes, if anyone dares top AT55's!
 
#20
Reference the comment above about getting their money back. I don’t know about this particular case, but I had an Ensign from the Academy working for me back in 2002, who popped positive on the drugs test after post deployment leave. The word from the JAG was that the Navy would demand their money back, prorated for the time served on active duty. Never did hear where he was going to come up with $85.000, since he disappeared into a drug rehab program before being administratively discharged!

Unfortunately, this honor standard by graduates seems to back up Prof Flemming’s recent piece about the Academies in the NYT.
 
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