WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps' top leader announced a new "trial-by-combat" program Friday, adding another controversial step in his campaign to stem self-destructive behavior amongst junior enlisted Marines.
Known as the Marine Corps Wager of Battle, it's a pilot program loosely based on ancient Germanic law. Commandant Gen. James Amos said his intent is to give commanders another tool to maintain good order and discipline in their units and cut back on redundant legal administrative procedures.
"Any evidence of non-compliance to institutional standards is grounds for non-punitive or administrative action," said a spokesman with the Staff Judge Advocate. "This is directly in keeping with the Commandant's intent to 'fight and win in the barracks.'"
Insiders claim the inspiration came to Amos back in September when he relieved two generals for taking inadequate force protection measures at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Sources say it also explains why Gen. Charles Gurganus retired with a broken arm.
"After being defeated in single combat by an air winger, he had no choice but to retire," a source speaking on condition of anonymity told Duffel Blog. When last seen, the retired general was consoling himself with a vat of ice cream and watching back-to-back highlight reels of Anderson Silva breaking his leg in UFC 168.
Lance Cpl. Clark Maney, whose battalion is participating in the pilot program, couldn't believe his ears when his company first sergeant offered the wager of battle option while reading him his Article 31 rights. "He told me I could refuse NJP and accept court-martial or fight him with live blades," he said from his hospital bed, recovering from bayonet wounds to the hip and neck.
"He survived. I think he's salvageable," said 1st Sgt. Sean Franks. "He sure as hell won't drink and drive ever again."
Franks believes the pilot program has had a positive impact on the battalion's warrior culture. Pointing out a Marine with his hands in his pockets, the First Sergeant approached him. "Hey devil, is it cold outside or something?"
The lance corporal removed his right fist from his pocket revealing the brass knuckles he was clutching. "Carry on," Franks said with approval. "That's the warrior mindset I'm looking for."