Marines seek more power at academy Officers say report on faculty vacancies supports their stance


The Marine Corps, which thinks it does the best job of training military leaders, wants more control over the U.S. Naval Academy, high-ranking officers said yesterday.

They are using the review of the school to push their point. The review, released Monday, found that the Navy has given short shrift to the school as a career billet.

The report exonerated the academy from involvement in ethical lapses by midshipmen, but it found that the Navy has failed to fill its allotted faculty slots, that it sends inexperienced officers to teach there and that it treats academy assignments as career-killers instead of prized spots.

The Marine Corps, which has a palpable but minority presence at the academy, approaches those slots differently and wants more of them.

But, said Thomas V. Draude, a retired Marine Corps brigadier general and member of the board that released the review, "It isn't one of those things where we want a certain amount of representation. We want the opportunity to shape the day-to-day operation of the academy."

Such talk renews a longtime rivalry between the Corps and the Navy.

Although it commissions officers to both services, the academy has never had a Marine superintendent or commandant, the top two posts at the school. And regulations allow only one of every six graduating midshipmen to be commissioned into the Corps.

Marine leaders are trying to change that.

Gen. Charles Krulak, the Marine Corps commandant and an academy graduate, has been lobbying behind the scenes to promote a Marine for the academy's soon-to-be-open commandant job, according to Navy sources.

They said his brash style and fierce advocacy of the Corps have rubbed some Navy leaders the wrong way, including the academy's superintendent, Adm. Charles R. Larson.

Last year, after former academy economics Professor James F. Barry published an article highly critical of Navy, the academy and Larson, Krulak called him twice at home to offer his support.

Navy sources say Larson has interviewed Marines for the deputy commandant job, but ruled them out based on inadequate qualifications. He has filled that job with a naval officer. The next commandant has yet to be picked.

"Admiral Larson is doing a tremendous job out there," said Rear Adm. Kendell Pease, the Navy's chief of information.

The 58-page report, which is critical of the Navy's failure last year to fill 25 percent of the school's vacant military teaching posts, may be the lever the Marines need.

"Everybody was waiting to see if there is or isn't a problem with the Naval Academy," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a former Marine sergeant and member of the academy's board of visitors.

"The report comes up with the conclusion that the Navy has problems with the Naval Academy. It whisked away our preconceived notions."

Gilchrest, an Eastern Shore Republican, noted that "it is a plum assignment in the Marine Corps to be assigned to the Naval Academy. And their [young officers'] careers are accelerated because of it."

That stands in sharp contrast to the committee's findings regarding the Navy's treatment of academy postings.

"One thing we found, and one that was deeply troubling to us, was that an assignment at the Naval Academy was not a career-enhancing assignment," said Judy Jolley Mohraz, the review board's co-chairwoman.

In addition to signing the review panel's report, Draude, described by some as Krulak's alter ego, filed a separate letter with the board of visitors. In it, he asked that the superintendent report not to the chief of naval operations but to the Navy $H secretary, who supervises the Navy and Marine Corps.

"I didn't think the report went far enough," said Draude, who also suggested that one of the academy's top three positions always be held by a Marine.

A Marine colonel at the Pentagon said the academy reflects a "Navy bias" against Marines recruiting midshipmen. He said Marines send their best officers to the school, in part, to counter that.

"By image and leadership you can get around that," said the colonel, who requested anonymity. "That's why the Marine Corps has worked hard to put good people down there. It's only by image that people will sign up."

Midshipmen surveys consistently rate Marine company officers, who serve as front-line role models to the 4,000-member brigade of midshipmen, to be the most effective.

In recent months, Larson has talked with Adm. Jay Johnson, chief of naval operations, about not only filling the vacant jobs but doing so with more qualified officers.

Pease said Larson and Johnson are working to make academy teaching assignments more attractive to promotion boards that have historically rewarded officers with experience in the fleet and not for academy service.

But academy critics say the Marines succeed as teachers at the school for a simple reason: The Corps puts an emphasis on training officers to be leaders younger than the Navy does.

"The Marines look at the 22-year-old point man as the person who is going to win or lose the battle," said Barry, who left the academy.

"So they are constantly pushing these guys into leadership. By the time they come back to the academy, they have had five to seven years of leadership and the kids love them."

Pub Date: 6/25/97

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