(WASHINGTON) — Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, called the Marines who harassed their colleagues on social media in the wake of the release of nude photos “embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation.”
In a video statement released on Tuesday to the Defense Media Service, Neller asked for any Marine who has been a victim of harassment or social media abuse to report to their chain of command.
Neller’s statement comes after the Defense Department confirmed it is investigating allegations of active and former Marines sharing hundreds of nude photos of female members of the Corps on a Facebook page. The claims were first reported by The War Horse and the Reveal news sites.
“This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust, and degrades the individual. The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behavior, which undermines our core values,” a Marine spokesperson said in a statement.
In his video addressing the Corps, Neller asked, “do you really want to be a Marine?”
“Let me cut to the chase. When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don’t think such behavior is that of true warriors or warfighters,” said Neller.
Allegations that female Marine Corps members were targeted and harassed online has shaken the Marine community as female Marines are now serving in infantry units for the first time.
Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, the highest ranking non-commissioned officer in the Corps, in a statement released Sunday said demeaning and degrading behavior hurts the Marine community. “As Marines, as human beings, you should be angry for the actions of a few. These negative behaviors are absolutely contrary to what we represent,” said Green.
Thomas Brennan, a former Marine and journalist who first reported on the Facebook page photos, said he knew one of the women targeted online. Brennan reported that the page included the names, ranks, and duty stations of dozens of women.
“That’s an easily weaponizable collection of images,” Brennan told ABC News. “That can destroy their lives, absolutely destroy their lives.”
Brennan’s website encourages both active military and civilians to report any sexual harassment to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which has opened up a formal investigation.
“As warriors we all know that cohesion and trust within a unit and between Marines is vital to success on the battlefield,” said Neller.
“We will get through this if we are all in together. Treating your fellow Marines with the respect they deserve. I need all to be a Marine. To do your job.”
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