Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Jones Renews Effort To Rename Dept. of Navy

By Ed O'Keefe

What's in a name? In Washington, almost everything.

Department of the Navy

This town is obsessed with names, ranks, titles, organizational flow charts and preserving one's turf. And now there's a renewed effort by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) to rename the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.

It may seem like a small technical detail, but Jones said it would help establish the Marine Corps' equal standing with the Army, Air Force and Navy and extend a simple courtesy to the families of Marines killed in action.

“There isn’t a subordinate relationship between the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marines Corps,” Jones said in a statement. “They are equivalent parts of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and it is time to recognize their equal status.”

Currently the Department of Defense includes a Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force and Department of the Navy, which consists of the Navy and Marine Corps.

"The Navy and Marine Corps always sell themselves before Congress as 'one fighting team,'" Jones said. “If you're one team, then why isn’t the teams name Navy and Marine Corps?”

Jones, whose district includes the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base, said a name change would also extend a courtesy to the families of Marines killed in action who currently receive condolence letters printed on Department of the Navy letterhead and begin with the sentence, "On behalf of the Department of the Navy..." with no explicit mention of the Marine Corps anywhere in the letter.

“If that letter of condolences doesn’t tell the story, I don’t know what does," Jones said in an interview.

A Navy spokesman declined to comment on the letters and the pending legislation.

Jones has proposed the name change every year for the past eight years. It has the support of his fellow members on the House Armed Services Committee and several military associations, but the bill has failed every year to clear conference committee negotiations with the Senate.

“I think this will be a new push," Jones said of his latest bill, H.R. 24. "We’ve got a new president. This is the right thing to say to the Marine Corps: you are an equal fighting partner.”

Can you think of any other government agencies or military offices that deserve a name change? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 8, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress, Turf War  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Bush Makes More Last-Minute Appointments
Next: Eye Opener: Jan. 8, 2009


I Greatly respect Congressman Jones, and I gather that this bill is likely an understandable reaction by numerous constituents.

However, as I understand the Navy and Marine Corps pretty well, it seems obvious that the Department will spend several million (if not tens of millions) in costs for replacing flags, bannisters, emblems, signs, etc., etc., over the next few years if such a bill was passed.

I'd place caution with this bill, as we are in business to control spending, cut back on excess, and avoid unnecessary costs during this financial crisis.

Posted by: HumbleGovWorker | January 8, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

"I'd place caution with this bill, as we are in business to control spending, cut back on excess, and avoid unnecessary costs during this financial crisis."

I'd concur completely. The name change seems like a fair thing to do, but perhaps we should revisit this when we aren't facing a massive financial meltdown including a multi-trillion dollar deficit and out-of-control government spending? Besides which, doesn't every marine know that they're working for the Navy when they sign on? Anyway, there's a good, valid traditional reason for the naming conventions. During the age of fighting sail, Marines were simply regular soldiers seconded to shipboard duty - hence they were under the authority of whichever service they were serving under. Later on, the hierarchy was maintained because Marines fill the same roles as soldiers in the Army, but do so on shipboard - where they are under the authority of a Naval captain. If the Marines have reached a level of independence at which they no longer operate under the authority of the Navy and therefore deserve their own name, then they have become redundant with the army and should be disbanded (or the army should be, given their relative effectiveness over the last few decades).

Posted by: gaijinsamurai | January 8, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

A solution looking for a problem. For 233 years the Navy-Marine Corps team has done just fine together. As a former Marine, I say leave well enough alone and worry about making us more effective rather than bureacratic; leave that to the Army and Air Force.

Posted by: lorddunsmore | January 8, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be more cost effective to change the letter to identify the loved one as a Marine serving in the Department of the Navy? The Marines are sort of like the Green Berets before the Army got cute and gave everyone a Green Beret (with which I totally disagreed). Perhaps Rep. Jones is really a disgruntled former Marine. The Marines have always felt they deserved their own department. Maybe that's the case; but it's too costly a case to make right now.

Posted by: navylady20051 | January 8, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse


My A$$ Rides in Navy Equipment

Posted by: anonthistime | January 8, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

The department most in need of renaming is Defense. And surely VA can be rolled back into the Department of Armed Services.

And while I was at it, I'd combine Energy, Transportation, EPA and Interior into a Department of Environment and Infrastructure.

Posted by: mattintx | January 8, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

One more thing: Can I have "freedom fries" with that? (Same congressman.)

Posted by: mattintx | January 8, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Finally a solution. This will solve everything. I see the end of the recession, the end of the wars, the end of politicians stealing the tax payer blind, Wall Street is on the rebound. SWEET!!!!!

Fire this nitwit.

Posted by: askgees | January 8, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, why not merge all the US Armed Forces into a single USAF. The Air Force would not need to change its insignias or stationary. Navy people could consider the AF to stand for "Aquatic Forces," and the Marines would become a special forces unit of a unified command.

The original function of the Marines was to capture sailors who overstayed shore leave or went AWOL. The name remains, but the function is obsolete. Let the name survive, but the function really has little to to with ships or the sea. What if the Seals, Marines, and Green Barrets were all rolled into one? The Air Force would also spare money and lives by cutting back on manned fighter craft and development of drones monitored from some comfy place. Suitably, the head of drone operations could be named Chief Drone.

Posted by: jkoch2 | January 8, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

This is another absurd radical approach by a radical congressman who is continually out of touch with reality. They are part of the Navy (Fleet Marines, etc..) and should remain that way. They are not like the green berets but they are better than any other armed force in the world man for man as a conventional fighting force.

Pleas vote this guy out of office.

Posted by: nelsmith1 | January 8, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

This is a screwball idea that would WASTE millions and millions of dollars. The name change we need is from (Congressman) Jones to (unemployed) Jones.

Posted by: harvard88 | January 8, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

as someone said earlier, this Jones is the same guy who gave us "hate the french and rename the menu items." He may have come around to opposing the Iraq war, but it's probably the only decent position this pandering ambulance chaser has ever taken. This would be a semantic change of little meaning, a band-aid on the sucking chest wound that is american military policy. It would drain money for something meaningless, as did the ridiculus renaming of Washington's National Airport, under the 'fiscally responsible' Republicans, for some senile B-movie hack actor.

Posted by: jehovahjones | January 8, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the reason this effort has previously died "in committee" on the Hill is.....consider the source. Readers (above) have rightly fingered this Congressman as less than cerebral. I've served with Marines all my life, and NOT ONE of them has ever whined about this. They tend to be mission-driven and could care less about such bureaucratic baloney.

Posted by: AngryFed1 | January 8, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

This is so stupid that it defies adequate description. That we have a congressman proposing this crap when the country is virtually coming apart is illustration enough of why we are in the pickle we find ourselves. This guy needs to be booted out of Washington yesterday so he can find himself employment in some stables somewhere in Utah.

Posted by: Doubtom | January 8, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

As a retired Navy Lieutenant I strongly support the proposed initiative. It could be phased in as current supplies are expended.

Actually, I'd prefer that the Marine Corps be a separate and equal Department. Times have changed since the Corps was first established and their mission has certainly evolved over time. These magnificent warriors deserve there own Department - they've earned it.

Posted by: kdan4231 | January 8, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Please consider that the U.S. Public Health Service also serves in Navy uniforms and has no particular representation in person or in writing except when its leader, the Surgeon General, makes an announcement to the public. Dependents of Public Health Service officers feel like second class citizens vis a vis the other military branches. President Bush didn't even appoint a permanent Surgeon General recently, only an 'acting' one.

Posted by: nlv33 | January 12, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The best change we could make would be to disaggregate the DOD and identify a Department of War, a Department of War Reparations,a Department of Homeland Defense and a Department of International Intelligence. We could then readily identify the consequences of our decisions and where and how are monies are spent. DOD with its budgets, personnel and corporate sweethearts is on the verge of becoming the overwhelming source of power in this country -precisely as Eisenhower warned.
Also, Homeland security should be disaggregated to its former organizations, Customs, INS, Border Patrol, etc. Communication and cooperation can be achieved without recourse to complex organizations.
We don't have a national fire or police force, yet city, county, state and federal law enforcement and fire agencies personnel communicate and cooperate on a level that is the envy of the world. It is all very doable.

Posted by: georgeduffy | January 12, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Sailors and Marines served proudly as members of the Naval Service. We have many problems that need to be solved and this isn't one.

Posted by: Sailorman66 | January 12, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

yet more asinine bureaucracy to spend dollars, during a deepening economic recession. this guy needs to get voted out of office!

Posted by: usroger | January 12, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company