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Marine Corps commandant orders removal of Confederate symbols from all Marine bases

Confederate Flag in Biloxi, Miss. (edward stojakovic/Flickr)
February 27, 2020

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered the removal of Confederate symbols from all Marine bases.

Berger issued the directive last week in a memo sent to Marine leaders which calls for the removal of “Confederate-related paraphernalia” as one of several initiatives Berger is “prioritizing for immediate execution,” according to Military.com.

Maj. Eric Flanagan, Berger’s spokesman, confirmed the accuracy of the memo, which was leaked on Friday. He also confirmed several other directives outlined by Berger, including items such as ordering leaders to find ways to increase combat roles for women, extend maternity leave to one year, and apply parental leave to same-sex couples.

“Last week, the Commandant of the Marine Corps directed specific tasks be reviewed or addressed by Headquarters Marine Corps staff,” Flanagan said. “Many of the tasks were published on Twitter Friday. Other tasks not published previously are mostly administrative matters.”

Confederate symbols have been targeted from removal from retail stores to government property over the past several years, and that removal effort is crossing into the military.

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The Marine Corps kicked out Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis in 2018 after the branch discovered he attended the white supremacist “Unite the Right” 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Va. Pistolis was also jailed for 28 days and his rank was reduced.

In September 2018, the Marine Corps then issued an official update to the branch’s prohibited conduct and activities, establishing stricter rules for Marines to follow or risk separation.

The order specified prohibited activities, including “dissident and protest activity (to include supremacist activity).”

According to the Marines, the order “clearly labels … active advocacy of, or active participation in, supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang matters as prohibited activities and conduct.”

The conduct policy update also included activities such as harassment, discrimination, “any forms of abuse,” and broadcasting of intimate photos or media.

“All of these negative behaviors now fall under one policy known as ‘prohibited activities and conduct’ or ‘PAC,’” the memo added.

Since Gen. Berger became the 38th Marine commandant in July 2019, he has emphasized his goal to design the Marine Corps to be a future-facing force and more prepared for threats outlined in the National Defense Strategy.