Commandant orders probe into use of Nazi symbols by Marines
Reacting to an uproar over Marines from Camp Pendleton posing with a flag showing a Nazi symbol, the commandant of the Marine Corps on Friday ordered an investigation to determine the prevalence of Nazi or "other unauthorized symbols" among scout-sniper squads.
Gen. James Amos also ordered Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, the highest-ranking enlisted man in the Marine Corps, to immediately meet with every senior staff non-commissioned officer and Marine from reconnaissance and scout-sniper units to reinforce the message that the Corps "unequivocally does not condone the use of such symbols."
Amos also ordered the general of training and education to review the sniper school curriculum to ensure it contains prohibitions on the SS symbol and other inappropriate images.
"On behalf of the Marine Corps and all Marines, I apologize to all offended by this regrettable incident," Amos said.
The photo was taken in September 2010 in the Sangin district of Helmand province, where the battalion and its scout-sniper squad were supporting Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton.
The photo was posted on a weapons manufacturer website and immediately drew protests. An investigation determined the incident was not racially motivated nor did it indicate any sympathy for Nazis, the Marine Corps said.
The Marines involved were counseled but not punished.
Also on Friday, Amos spoke with Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, to apologize for the picture and emphasize the Marine Corps’ abhorrence of any use of a Nazi symbol. A Marine spokesman characterized the conversation as “positive and cordial.”
-- Tony Perry in San Diego