Army Official Hits Marines, Runs

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."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.