Fresh abuse allegations rock the Marines boot camp at Parris Island, SC following the death of another Muslim recruit last March at the same facility.
A Marines training center at Parris Island, SC is under fire after a Muslim Marine said he was called a terrorist repeatedly by his drill instructor and was ordered into an industrial clothes dryer which was turned on while he was inside. According to investigators, he was left in the dryer long enough that his neck and arms were burned. The recruit was allegedly ordered into the dryer multiple times. This comes after intense scrutiny aimed at the Parris Island facility following the death of a 20-year-old recruit of Pakistani descent, Raheel Siddiqui, who leaped from a stairwell landing 40 feet above ground as he fled from the same instructor accused of using the dryer. Marine officials have been investigating what many have called a culture of harsh punishments at Parris Island.
Last week, Marines officials announced that up to 20 members of the facility’s staff could be charged or disciplined following the investigation of abuse allegations at the Marines Corps boot camp. In response to the allegations, Marine Commandant General Robert B. Neller said in an official statement that training of recruits would continue to be mentally and physically rigorous, with overall emphasis given to the quality of the Marine that emerges from the program. He went on to say that:
“When America’s men and women commit to becoming Marines, we make a promise to them. We pledge to train them with firmness, fairness, dignity, and compassion.”
However, investigators describe that the drill instructors of the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion abused their recruits physically and emotionally. Ethnic and homophobic slurs were used frequently and recruits were forced to participate in unauthorized physical training that often resulted in injuries. Drill instructors were also drunk on the job on at least one occasion, according to the allegations.
After the allegations were made, the drill instructor, including the instructor who ordered a recruit into a dryer, was allowed to continue training recruits as Marine officials were dismissive of the accusations. The dryer incident occurred in 2015 and was ultimately reported last November when the targeted recruit, as well as two others, came forward.
Instructors had attempted to bribe recruits for their silence, offering them protein bars and other food to keep them quiet, as well as warning them that “snitches get stitches.”
Drill instructors at other Marine training facilities were taken aback by the allegations at the Parris Island facility. A marine instructor in San Diego said that there is constant oversight of drill instructors and that recruit abuse is not tolerated. He went on to say that he has witnessed drill instructors held accountable for minor infractions. Another retired enlisted Marine said drill instructors are directed specifically not to discriminate against recruits based on their race or religion, making the actions of drill instructors at Parris Island especially egregious. Marine officials tentatively identified the drill instructor at the focus of the Parris Island investigation as Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, who was removed from his job in March.
According to investigators, Kissoon was a “toxic leader” with a “derisive attitude” that caused his officers “to lose confidence in his leadership”. Kissoon’s boss and his senior enlisted advisor were also removed from their positions following the investigation’s conclusion. Some Marines will likely be criminally charged beginning in the next few months. However, failure to sufficiently punish these Marines will likely do little to curb the potential for future abuse of a similar nature.
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