Photo by Cpl. Tyler Stewart, 2nd Marine Logistics Group

Report: Did Marine Corps top general let memos leak to protect military families in border wall funding diversion?

April 04, 2019 - 2:28 pm

The commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Neller, allowed memos to be leaked to the press highlighting issues affecting service families living on military installations ruined by last year's hurricane in order to influence the White House's efforts to move Pentagon construction dollars to the southwest border, according to Newsweek.

Upon release of the story, the Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, says Neller is denying the report.

The Los Angeles Times and NBC News both carried stories on two internal DoD memos leaked to them with Gen. Neller's knowledge, according to Pentagon sources as reported by Newsweek.

The memos highlighted budget difficulties the Marine Corps faced if Pentagon construction money were to be transferred to build the border wall.  The most significant argument was combat readiness at Camp Lejeune, which sustained serious damage six months ago when Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

Photo by Cpl. Taylor Cooper, II Marine Expeditionary Force

The diversion of funds caused Gen. Neller to cancel and/or scale back training exercises, including the ITX (Integrated Training Exercise), scheduled for the Mojave Desert at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, according to the report.

When asked why Gen. Neller allowed the leak, one source told Newsweek, “Because he didn’t want the Marines and families at Camp Lejeune to get f***ed.”

Last year, in letters to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, Gen. Neller said the category 1 hurricane caused “extensive damage to 913 military structures; 3,748 homes; infrastructure to include railways, roads, and the power grid; and to training areas,” across three different Marine Corps installations in North Carolina."  He quoted the cost of repairs at $1.3 billion, plus another $1.7 billion in building replacement. 

Gen. Neller is in his final year at commandant of the Marine Corps, with plans to retire at the end of the year. 

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