Kosovo duty not
likely for isle
Gen. Krulak says they need
to be kept in Hawaii as an
insurance policy' By Gregg K. Kakesako
Marine Gen. Charles Krulak today said he doesn't foresee any of the Marines stationed at Kaneohe leaving for Kosovo if the Clinton administration approves the use of ground forces.
"We need to hold them as an insurance policy," he said.
In his last visit as head of the 172,800 Marine force, Krulak said there are two other trouble spots in the world -- South Korea and Southeast Asia-- where they may be needed.
Krulak, who will retire at the end of this year after 35 years of service, believes the current shortage of about 5,000 Marines will be met with requests now pending before Congress.
If approved, he hopes the increase could mean that 800 more Marines, making up an infantry battalion, would be transferred to Hawaii to augment the three battalions currently stationed at Kaneohe.
In a 90-minute motivational speech for Kaneohe Marines this morning, Krulak said he doesn't believe that the Marine Corps can stand to lose any of its bases under any base realignment proposal.
"We are where we need to be," said Krulak, who has spent two tours in Hawaii and also lived here for about 18 years.
He left the islands in 1995 when he was commander of Marine Forces Pacific to take on the job as commandant of the Marine Corps. This was his 10th visit to Hawaii since becoming commandant, a post which he will leave at the end of this month.
Krulak said nations shouldn't rule out the use of ground forces in Kosovo.
He said none of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff thought that bombing alone would be the final solution, but he said there was agreement that something needed to be done at that point because of the problems of ethnic cleansing and atrocities.
Throughout his four-year tenure, Krulak, who was born at a Marine base in Quantico, Va., has never shied away from controversy.
The son of a highly decorated Marine general who fought in World War II and in Korea, Krulak has insisted on separating the sexes in basic training. The Marines are the only service in which female recruits train separately from men.
In 1997, Krulak spoke out against "blood pinnings" -- a hazing ritual where paratroopers' jump wings are pounded onto the chests of Marines following completion of jump school.
During that same year, Krulak had to defend the Corps when Sara Lister, an assistant Army secretary, called Marines "extremist."
Such a label,Krulak said, "would dishonor hundreds of thousands of men whose blood has been shed in the name of freedom ... Honor, courage and commitment are not extreme."
Krulak initiated "the crucible," the 12th week of basic training to hammer home those values. The 54-hour test is designed to push recruits bodies to the limit with tests at various obstacle stations.