The Department of Defense is investigating the shocking discovery of hundreds of Marines who shared possibly up to thousands of nude photos of female service members and veterans in a Facebook page which commands nearly 30,000 followers.
More than two dozen women have been identified since January 30 in photos shared on a private Facebook page "Marines United". Many of these women are on active duty including officers and enlisted service members and have been identified by their full name, rank and military duty stations according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Some images showed the women in compromising positions including those engaged in sexual acts. One instance showed one service woman being followed and secretly photographed while changing into her uniform without her knowledge and consent, and the photos uploaded on the said page. Deplorably, the photos garnered numerous obscene, unprintable comments from the members of the Facebook page.
Senior officers with Headquarters Marine Corps have verified the incident as well as the uploading and sharing of photos of other active duty and veteran women through the Facebook page and the links to a Google Drive.
The photo uploading and sharing started less than a month after the first Marine Infantry unit was assigned women on January 5. The social media scandal underscores persistent problems of sexual harassment within the military ranks. The unfortunate case could also potentially hurt the recruitment of women into the military. Defense Department officials also confirmed that it also puts service members at risk for blackmail and could put in jeopardy the national security.
The shocking and condemnable activity on the "Marines United" page was discovered by the War Horse, a non-profit news organization run by Marine veteran Thomas Brennan. There have been corresponding actions on the matter. After Brennan contacted the Marine Corps on January 30, social media accounts behind the uploading of photos and sharing have been deleted by Facebook and Google at the request of the Corps. A formal investigation has also been launched by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The Marine who shot some of the compromising photos has also been discharged from active duty.
However, some of the online obscene activities have persisted even after the said actions were taken. The untoward behavior is not being tolerated by the military leadership. Sgt. Major Ronald C. Green clearly said that they need to be brutally honest with themselves and each other. He stressed that such behavior hurts fellow Marines, family members and civilians. It is also a direct attack on military's ethos and legacy. It is inconsistent with the military's core values, and it impedes their ability to perform.
The unacceptable action of some rotten members do not reflect, however, the entire behavior and principles of the military, whom President Trump consistently hail as the best in the world and whom he would like to further strengthen and rebuild for national interest. Certainly, the White House will not condone any abuses done against the women or to any other service members and officers, even if those were perpetrated by their misguided colleagues.