The Marine Corps's decision to stop recruiting married people in 1995 caught civilian military leaders by surprise, from an "astounded" President Clinton on down. And it didn't take Defense Secretary Les Aspin long to order an about-face.
The Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Carl Mundy, ordered the no-married-recruits policy last week. It became public Wednesday afternoon when the Marines issued a statement.
By evening senior Aspin aides were meeting to consider how to announce that Secretary Aspin had killed the move and disclose that the defense secretary never had approved it. A three-sentence statement that night simply said Aspin had ordered the policy withdrawn, the Marines had done so, and Aspin had demanded that any new policies on the matter of marriage "be subject to a full departmental review" beforehand.
White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers said Mr. Clinton "was astounded when he heard about the general's order." She said Clinton asked his counselor David Gergen to call Aspin to find out what was going on. By the time Mr. Gergen reached Aspin, however, the order was already withdrawn.
The Army, Navy, and Air Force have no such policies on marriage.