QUANTICO, VA — She's been in combat, she wants to radically reorganize the Marine Corps, and she thinks male Marines need to stop whining and put their big girl panties on. This week we sat down for a one-on-one interview with Gen. Isabella Santiago, who sources at the Pentagon say is poised to become the Marine Corps' first-ever woman commandant.
Santiago will replace current commandant Gen. James Amos, whose term has been marred by a series of public relations fiascoes and scandals. While it is unusual for a commandant's successor to be named this early, Pentagon sources say the recent photograph of Amos wearing a Raider patch was the last straw for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who quietly told the general it was time to move on.
Gen. Santiago has a colorful history. Because of previous restrictions on women in combat positions, she received her initial commission as a Military Police Officer in 1974. She later transferred over to combat logistics, where she served during the Gulf War, as well as Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. She came out of the War on Terror suffering from multiple concussions caused by IED attacks, which left her with a noticeable slur and case of Tourette syndrome that ended her brief posting as a Pentagon spokeswoman.
For the past two years she has been assigned to the Marine Martial Arts Center for Excellence in Quantico, which in her words "is a great opportunity to beat some goddamned sense into all the new lieutenants hitting the fleet."
She received the posting, unusual for a four-star general, while NCIS concluded their investigation involving her three DUIs in Stafford and allegedly hitting an aide in the face with a whiskey bottle. With the DUI charges being dropped and the aide vanished without a trace, President Obama has already begun the long process of formally submitting her name to Congress.
We started by asking Santiago if she thinks the Marine Corps is ready to be led by a woman, given the blatant hostility expressed by many male Marines towards the idea of women in the infantry. She paused to spit out another wad of dip into the Gatorade bottle on her desk, then responded, "Eat a bowl of unwashed dicks."
She then added that if we didn't close our mouths she'd happily smash them shut with a brick. So we followed up on whether she would continue the most controversial decision of the Amos commandancy: no rolled sleeves.
"Look, any commandant's main effort has gotta be keeping us distinct from the Army," she explained. "That's why we're fighting to keep MARPAT, and ... that's why I'm bringing back rolled sleeves. The bad news is that's why I'm also keeping the tattoo restrictions in place."
When we asked how the two were related, she said, "I know some of you have been on Army bases, and seen soldiers who look like they escaped off the wall at some art museum. Now I love ink, and I'm finishing up a sweet new back tat, but if you're not a Maori warrior you don't need a tattoo crawling up your neck and across your fucking face."
"That's also why we're going to keep those mandatory grooming regulations for deployment, even though I know we're all sick and tired of shaving our legs and armpits in a combat zone just so the boys can fap it off in a porta-a-shitter."
We then asked her opinion on female pull-ups, and physical fitness in general.
"If I can do a 300 PFT, there's no reason all my other sisters can't," Santiago said. "We've let a lot of weak bitches in under those standards who give the rest of us girls a bad rap. I've seen women who fall out of every unit run there is and still somehow manage to score a 260 every PFT. That's bullshit! I know it'll look bad if we have to relieve a bunch of [females] under a universal PFT, but I honestly fucking hate them more than you do."
"But let me tell you the real reason we need to abolish the female PFT score: right now there's some fat-ass piece of trash who can barely do three pull-ups who still thinks he's better than every female Marine in history because he's got a dick. I've got a message for him: I'm going to cut off your dick AND your fucking balls, because you obviously don't need them."
She gestured with the switchblade which she'd been absentmindedly opening and closing throughout our interview, prompting our next question, about last year's controversial push for a universal cover.
"If you've seriously got your silkies in a bunch over a fucking hat you've got bigger problems. When the hell are you even going to wear it if you're always downrange? Shit, I've only worn my blues once, and that was because [Joe] Shusko bet I couldn't beat him in a fight wearing them."
When we asked if Marines could also expect any changes to the Commandant's Reading List, Santiago said that one of her first acts will be mandating the graphic novel 300 for all ranks, since it is much closer than First to Fight to the ethos of the modern Marine and because "most Marines can barely read the menu at Burger King."
We asked if there was anything else she wanted Marines to know.
"Yeah, if you've never deployed, then fuck you. I've seen some of you 20-30 year motherfuckers slinking around without your [Iraq or Afghanistan campaign] medals. You think I don't know why you're wearing a tanker jacket on a Friday in fucking August? And it goes doubly for you skate bitches trying to sneak into Afghanistan this year for a ribbon and a blowjob at Camp Leatherneck. Submit for retirement before I throw you out."
Gen. Santiago will begin her nomination proceedings early in 2014, as soon as Gen. Amos has been officially confirmed as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Duffel Blog Investigative Reporter Lee Ho Fuk also contributed to this report.