The North Carolina-based 2nd Marine Division has a drug problem.
That’s how Maj. Gen. Francis Donovan put it in an unusually blunt Marine Corps news release issued by the service this week. The division has changed up the way it screens for drugs after catching several Marines using lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD.
“We are committed to identifying violators of our ethos,” Donovan said in a statement. “The vast majority of Marines within the 2d Marine Division routinely uphold our core values, and they deserve to know that the Marines to their left and right are doing the same.”
The division has tested about a quarter of its 16,000 Marines and sailors for LSD since the summer. Previous routine drug screenings did not test that particular drug, but that changed after Marines and sailors were found to be using LSD.
“The number of positive test results is exceedingly small — fewer than a half a percent of those tested,” 1st Lt. Dan Linfante, a 2nd Marine Division spokesman, said. “The same trend exists for other drugs as well, with over 55,000 tests administered over the past year.”
Half a percent of 4,000 would be about 20 Marines. Still, Linfante added, the Marine Corps has a zero-tolerance policy regarding drugs, so even one positive test is too many.
Anyone who tests positive, he said, will be fully held accountable for their actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“The use of prohibited substances is unfortunately not new,” he said. “What’s new here is that the 2d Marine Division is now testing specifically for LSD, along with the many other substances we’ve long tested for — both randomly and in every other way possible.”
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service warned this summer about a big spike in LSD use across the Navy Department. Federal agents asked for help tracking down perpetrators, which they said was prevalent on the dark web — a hard-to-regulate section of the internet.
In the first four months of 2020, NCIS saw a 70% increase in investigations relating to alleged LSD offenses, Military.com previously reported.
This is not the first time the 2nd Marine Division has made headlines for bad behavior.
Last December, members of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, which falls under the infantry division, lost a pair of rifles and a flak jacket during a training exercise. Lt. Col. Clinton Kappel and Sgt. Maj. Elson Aviles, the battalion’s commanding officer and senior-enlisted leader, were later removed from their jobs.
And in April 2019, Maj. Gen. David Furness, then-commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, put in place a strict daily routine to fix what he said was poor discipline and sloppy appearances across the infantry division. That included weeds and trash around buildings, worn-out boots and out-of-regs facial hair.
“These are just a few examples of the lack of discipline seen across the board that will not be tolerated in this Division any longer,” Furness wrote in a letter to his Marines and sailors in which he instituted division-wide reveille at 5:30 a.m., mandatory formations and inspections, meal times and physical training requirements.
Units within the 2nd Marine Division continue holding a basic daily routine that meets their operational requirements, Linfante said.
“The Division has made significant strides toward improving basic discipline, and leadership within the Division enforces those standards to maintain the Division’s high level of discipline,” he said.
— Hope Hodge Seck contributed to this report.
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