2 leaders fired from Marines’ West Coast infantry school on same day

by Vern Evans

The Marine Corps relieved two leaders of their commands at the service’s West Coast infantry school on the same day.

On March 8, Marine Corps Training Command leader Brig. Gen. Farrell Sullivan fired both Col. Seth MacCutcheon, commanding officer of School of Infantry–West, and Maj. Nicolas Engle, commanding officer of the school’s Reconnaissance Training Company, Training Command spokesman Maj. Joshua Pena said in an emailed statement to Marine Corps Times on Friday.

Pena said the two commanders were relieved for “loss of trust and confidence in their ability to execute the responsibilities of their commands.”

“TRNGCMD is committed to ensuring leaders at all levels fulfill their duties to deliver the most highly qualified Marines to the operating forces safely and efficiently,” Pena said in the statement. “No additional information is available at this time.”

Military.com first reported the firings.

MacCutcheon declined to comment to Marine Corps Times. Marine Corps Times attempted to reach Engle but did not receive a response by time of publication.

Located at Camp Pendleton, California, School of Infantry–West is where newly minted Marines must go to learn either the basics of infantry or more advanced infantry skills. The school is home to the Reconnaissance Training Company, which trains reconnaissance Marines.

In August 2023, Lance Cpl. Joseph Whaley, 20, was fatally injured from what the Naval Safety Center called a “negligent discharge” during nighttime live-fire training as part of the school’s Basic Reconnaissance Course. The Marine Corps said in the days after Whaley’s death that it was investigating what had happened.

In July 2023, MacCutcheon fired the school’s top enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. Steven Burkett, for what Pena called “a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to perform his duties.”

MacCutcheon is an infantry officer who has served in Kosovo, Iraq, the Republic of Georgia and Israel, according to his official bio. He has been the commander of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; executive officer of 1st Marine Regiment; southeast Europe and Middle East plans branch chief and Israel desk officer for U.S. European Command’s plans, policy, strategy and capabilities directorate; and assistant chief of staff for plans at Marine Forces Pacific.

He assumed command of the infantry school in June 2022.

MacCutcheon’s personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal with a “V” for valor and the Meritorious Service Medal, according to his bio.

Engle became the commander of the Reconnaissance Training Company in May 2023, according to his LinkedIn page. His previous role was as the operations officer for 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, part of the California-based 1st Marine Division.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

Read the full article here

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