CAMP LEATHERNECK — 24-year-old Marine Cpl. John Felton from Galveston, Texas died from complacency in Afghanistan last week, according to a statement released by the Department of Defense. He was a radar technician stationed at Camp Leatherneck, the largest Marine Corps base in the country.
A Public Affairs spokesman for the Marine Corps held a press conference because of some unusual details surrounding the tragedy.
“We are still investigating the incident,” Capt. Tony White told the assembled group, “but it does appear that the Marine in question died due to complications resulting from complacency. We do not suspect any foul play at this time.”
It's not entirely clear what the incident means for the war effort, or its medical ramifications for deployed personnel. While many people are shocked, senior enlisted Marines reacted to the news with a noticeable lack of surprise.
“Of course you can die from complacency,” said a Master Gunnery Sgt. who chose to remain anonymous, “I say that to my young Devil Pups all the time. Why in the hell do you think we had all those blast walls spray-painted?”
This may not be the first casualty from complacency either, according to several insider sources. Congress, concerned about unconfirmed reports of complacency deaths, authorized a $42.6 million study on the problem, which is slated for release in early April 2013. It reportedly describes numerous incidents where soldiers, sailors, and Marines mysteriously died on forward operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What this means for the effort in Afghanistan remains unclear, but Marine Corps leadership is promising swift action.
“Expect to see two or three times as many stenciled signs as you're used to,” said one senior officer, “and at least one more sign at every main chow hall."
Preliminary estimates for the safety precautions range from $72 million to well over $100 million.
President Obama also released a brief statement on the White House blog, saying that he promised a global war on complacency. In the statement, he said, "any forward base that continues to harbor and support complacency will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."