The Army's top female civilian resigned Friday after apologizing to the Marine Corps for calling Marines "extremists."
The Associated Press reported that Sara Lister, the Army's assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, decided to quit after receiving heavy criticism for her comment.
At a conference of military personnel and scholars in Baltimore on Oct. 26, Lister said "Marines are extremists. Wherever you have extremists, you've got some risks of total disconnection with society. And that's a little dangerous." Lister went on to poke fun at Marines' uniforms, saying "they have all these checkerboard fancy uniforms and stuff." Lister's remarks were reported Thursday by The Washington Times.
Her comments sparked criticism from many corners. Gen. Charles Krulak, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, defended the service in a statement.
Lister's statement, said Krulak, "would summarily dismiss 222 years of sacrifice and dedication to the nation. It would dishonor the hundreds of thousands of Marines whose blood has been shed in the name of freedom."
The House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution calling for Lister's removal and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., sent a letter to President Clinton demanding that he fire her. Lister had already announced in September that she would leave her position at the end of this month, but moved up her departure following the heavy criticism.
On Thursday Lister sent a letter of apology to Krulak, saying that her remarks were "taken out of context."
"My point--ineptly put--was that all the services had different relationships with civilian society, based in part on their culture, the size of their force and their mission. My use of the word 'extremism' was inappropriate and wrong," Lister wrote.
Krulak accepted the apology for what he called Lister's "disparaging remarks." Defense Department Spokesman Kenneth Bacon said Defense Secretary William Cohen was satisfied with Lister's apology. "He agrees with her 100 percent that the remarks were inappropriate and wrong," Bacon said. "We live in a world where people make mistakes and they apologize for the mistakes and move on."