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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”