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Board recommends honorable discharge for Clement

Captain failed to demonstrate leadership in scout sniper case, panel finds

Oct. 17, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Captain James Clement Board of Inquiry
Capt. James Clement ()
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MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA. — A panel of three colonels has unanimously recommended that a Marine captain accused of failing to supervise the scout snipers who urinated on the corpses of insurgents during a 2011 combat patrol in Afghanistan be honorably discharged from the Corps.

The panel found there was sufficient evidence to establish that Capt. James Clement, former executive officer of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, failed to demonstrate leadership required of an officer of his grade and failed to properly discharge the duties expected of his grade and experience.

The board did not find sufficient evidence of acts of misconduct, or of moral or professional dereliction, according to the findings of a three-day board of inquiry concluded here Thursday. Clement is the last of eight Marines to face discipline — ranging from court-martial to nonjudicial punishment — in connection with the urination incident, which became an international embarrassment for the Marine Corps when a video of the act was posted to YouTube.

While Clement was not present for the urination incident, he was the senior officer on the 20-man patrol, and prosecutors alleged that he had failed to correct other sloppy or improper behavior of Marines on the mission. That behavior included the Marines’ removing their Kevlar helmets and other protective gear in combat, the alleged negligent discharge of a grenade launcher, and a statement by the patrol’s enlisted leader that “for the next five minutes, every military-age male south [of here] is hostile.”

The captain’s defense attorneys argued that Clement, an exemplary officer, had been absorbed in his duties as the radio operator on the patrol and should not be held accountable for lax standards that had developed within the scout sniper unit over a period of time.

Clement’s civilian attorney, John Dowd, said Clement’s discharge was engineered by a politically correct Marine Corps leadership determined to make an example of Marines connected with the scandal.

“We’ll all move on. (Clement) is a great Marine, served his country well. He’ll be fine,” Dowd said. “The Marine Corps is in real trouble, though.”

Through a spokesman, Marine Corps attorneys prosecuting the case declined to comment on the outcome.

The board’s recommendation must be approved by Lt. Gen. Robert E. Milstead Jr., deputy commandant of Manpower & Reserve Affairs, before the decision to discharge Clement is made final.

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