First Lt. Josh Waddell ordered his men to take out an insurgent last fall in Afghanistan, and that decision has come back to bite him pretty badly. Now, the 25-year-old finds himself at the center of a contentious debate over the rules of engagement and the potentially disastrous career implications for those deemed to have violated them.
When the incident occurred, Waddell was the executive officer for his company with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, which oversaw security in the Sangin district of Helmand province. He was subsequently fired from that job, given a lousy fitness report and told he would not be recommended for promotion. His father, a retired Navy SEAL commander, has gotten involved — and made enough noise to capture the attention of some in Congress, who are pushing for creation of ROE “review boards” that would afford troops an independent review of any administrative action stemming from alleged violations. But some worry that would serve to undermine the chain of command.
Also this week, staff writer James K. Sanborn has an exclusive first look at the Corps’ plan to develop new functional fitness tests, part of the service’s evaluation of opening additional ground combat jobs to women. The goal is to establish gender-neutral standards for physically rigorous tasks required of Marines whose primary mission is to close with and destroy. As we reported in February, the Corps is opening to women about 400 jobs in six types of battalions. Officials said then that this was a precursor to implementing broader changes. These new strength tests are a key piece to doing so.
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