On Friday, the Marine Corps said that in connection with nude photographs that were shared online, two male Marines have been demoted and around two dozen other military members are being investigated.
These are the first punishments from the photo scandal that contained violent and degrading comments about women in the pictures.
Under a photo of a woman on social media, the two punished Marines made negative comments, but they were about a male senior leader, not her.
On Friday, assistant commandant Marine Gen. Glenn Walters gave an interview to The Associated Press where he said that Marines can be punished for such behavior as it violates the military code of good order and discipline.
He said: “Good order and discipline is a requirement for all Marines and if you do something that does not promote good order and discipline in a unit then you can be held accountable. All of these activities on social media that disparage a female Marine or any Marine for that matter is not good order and discipline and we have an adjudication process in place to assure that.”
Several former and current female Marines have claimed that their pictures those of other female service members were posted online without their consent. This caused an investigations by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Army Criminal Investigation Command. However, up until now only female Marines have come forward as victims.
Marine Lt. Col. Warren Cook, commander of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines said that the two demoted Marines posted deprecating comments on a social media page called “United States Grunt Corps.” He stated that they pleaded guilty; they were demoted by one pay grade, and put on 45 days of restriction and 45 days of extra duties.
Walters added that two cases involved civilians, they were referred to state authorities, but the states decided not to pursue the cases further.
New online policy:
NCIS director Andrew Traver, said that an investigative team comprised of 100 people has reviewed more than 75,000 images and 150 different websites. According to Traver, half the pictures are of women and half are of men, and most are selfies, taken voluntarily by the subject.
He added that the majority of photos and comments were done by civilians. However, in the majority of the cases, they don’t amount to criminal activity.
Facial recognition software is being used by NCIS to assist women in determining if their photos may have been circulated on the websites. There has been a handful of matches so far.
According to Walters, whenever possible, the NCIS will build criminal cases. If there are no criminal charges, the case will be then referred to the service to decide if code violations occurred and to take administrative action, if appropriate.
Walters said: “Everything we teach in combat is about teamwork. If we have some members of the team that we’re not getting the best out of because we’re treating them bad, then we’re not going to be successful on the battlefield.”
After the scandal, the Marine Corps has written a more detailed social media policy that defines out the legal ramifications of online misconduct of service members. New Marine recruits must sign a contract stating that they have read and understand the new guidelines.