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Marines, Navy Eye Mandatory Separation Review for Online Offenders

The staff chiefs for the Navy and the marine Corps turned out on Tuesday that both services are seen updating their policy to require mandatory processing for administrative separation for soldiers who are guilty of abuse in the activities on social media, a move that would make online offences related to drug use and sexual abuse.

Lt.-Gen. Mark Brilakis, Marine Corps deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, told Military.com a task force organized to the aftermath of a social media scandal involving Marines, is considering the option.

The scandal revolves around a private Facebook page with the name Marines United, where hundreds of active-duty soldiers and reservists, apparently to be viewed and exchanged nude and compromising photos of female service-members without their consent. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe into the illegal activity has since been extended to the outside of the page to other groups and users, NCIS officials said last week.

“There is a mandatory processing for administrative separation in a number of different cases. The use of drugs, require mandatory administrative processing, sexual harassment, requires mandatory administrative processing, sexual assault requires the mandatory administrative processing,” Brilakis said, in response to a parliamentary hearing on the military policy for social media on Capitol Hill.

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“We consider whether events packed in Marines United, that things, would rise to the level where the commander could recommend or direct me to start a compulsory administrative process of the separation of table and bed,” he said.

Processing does not guarantee that an individual will be separated from the service, but it immediately indicates that the respective commander will embark on a review, and a board of directors to review the case of the service member in question. Such a step would require an amendment of the Marine Corps separations manual, Brilakis said.

The Navy, and organized a senior leader working group in the aftermath of the scandal, is considering a similar step, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke told the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel Tuesday.

“We are reviewing the [Uniform Code of Military Justice] and Marine policy for mandatory administrative separation to ensure that they are sufficient,” he said.

The fact that both services are considering such a step, reserved for violations for which the military has a zero-tolerance policy, underlined how seriously the army is now addressing the problem of social media harassment and the pressure from the legislators to produce results quickly.

Similar policies in the 1980s to combat drug use in the services resulted in a huge decrease. According to the Ministry of Defence statistics, 47 percent of the troops were found to have used drugs in 1973, compared with only 3 percent in 1995. More recently, the military has worked for the same approach to sexual harassment and sexual assault, but the results so far have been more muted.

The policy reviews as several lawmakers express outrage in the service of the members alleged conduct and calling for a decisive action.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a freshman Democrat from New York, called on the army to start the perpetrators, the reading aloud of an enlistment document that states that troops will be subject to separation if their behavior does not meet military standards.

“I don’t know why we have to debate and you tell them in the beginning and you need to opt out to say that their behavior is unacceptable,” she said. “I don’t understand why we have to pursue many different paths. Do you still have the power to throw them if it’s very clear that they do not do this?”

Brilakis, however, emphasized that everyone in uniform deserves a fair trial, and will continue to receive.

“Whether it’s through an administrative procedure or a military justice procedure, there are processes,” he said.

— Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter via@HopeSeck.

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