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Twenty-Nine Palms Survey:
What Really Motivated Its Author?

by John F.McManus (from The New American)

[Sidebar to Cover Story “I am Not a UN Soldier”
by William Norma Grigg]
TNA / October 2, 1995 (p. 6)

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Veteran readers of THE NEW AMERICAN are vibrantly aware of the May 10, 1994 "Combat Arms Survey" administered to 300 active-duty Marines at the USMC’s Air-Ground Combat Center, Twenty-Nine Palms, California. Among its 46 questions, the Marines were asked if they would be willing to swear to a United Nations code of conduct and if they would fire on Americans who refused to turn over their privately owned weapons to the government. Other questions sought their approval or disapproval about their involvement in an assortment of operations far removed from proper military assignments, some of which would even place them under formal UN command.

One of the Marines who participated in this exercise became so disturbed by the questions that he obtained an extra copy and sent it to THE NEW AMERICAN. No sooner had our published report about this survey reached readers than several congressmen fired off inquiries to the Marine Corps and Navy. Spokesmen for both branches of the service issued statements claiming there was really nothing to be concerned about, that the survey was merely part of its author’s research for a master’s degree thesis.

But that explanation neatly sidesteps a far more important consideration: The aura of official acceptance of these subversive attitudes would certainly lead some of the Marines toward believing that they should hold them as well. It is our contention that no one wearing a uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces should ever allow troops under his command to be subjected to such totally unconstitutional thinking.

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Author’s Defense

We have talked at length with the author of this survey, Navy Lieutenant Commander Ernest Guy Cunningham, and about his motivation in creating it. He provided us with a copy of the 197-page thesis he wrote after analyzing the responses given by the Marines. His thesis helped him to earn a Master of Science degree in the area of manpower, personnel, and training analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Anxious to defend himself from charges he is pro-UN, Cunningham repeatedly contended in his interview with THE NEW AMERICAN that he is no enemy of America and no participant in any plan to demoralize U.S. troops. He maintained emphatically that he wanted only to confirm and then pass on to higher authorities his fears about "the lack of knowledge among the soldiers about the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and their heritage as Americans." He added: "I’m a life member of the National Rifle Association, an ardent constitutionalist, and I’m even disappointed with the NRA spokesmen who don’t do a very good job defending their position."

To each of the questions or scenarios presented in the Cunningham survey, the Marines were asked if they strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree, or have no opinion. The first part of the survey dealt with non-traditional missions (termed "operations other than war" by Cunningham) under the command and control of U.S. military personnel, first inside the United States, and then outside the United States. Additional questions dealt with those same type missions conducted outside the U.S. under United Nations command and control.

The Marines indicated overwhelming acquiescence to being assigned under U.S. control within the U.S. for such non-traditional missions as drug enforcement, disaster relief, environmental clean-up, substitute teaching in public schools, guarding prisons, national emergency policing, or assisting federal law enforcement officials. For example, one of the questions asked the Marines if they would be willing to be assigned to a "national emergency police force" within the U.S. under U.S. command. The survey showed that 6.0 percent strongly disagreed, 6.3 percent disagreed, 42.3 percent agreed, 43.0 percent strongly agreed, and 2.3 percent had no opinion.

"Do you realize," Cunningham stated during our telephone interview, "that 85.3 percent agreed with assigning troops to a mission that violates the Posse Comitatus Act?" This Act states that "it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus [power of the county], or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except [when] authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress."

Additional results published in Cunningham’s thesis demonstrate a high degree of willingness on the part of these U.S. troops to carry out non-traditional missions under U.S. command: 48 percent agreement for drug enforcement; 39 percent for disaster relief; 67 percent for peacekeeping; and 52 percent for humanitarian relief. However, when questions were asked about similar missions involving U.S. troops under UN command, the approval rate dropped off markedly: 17 percent for drug enforcement; 13 percent for disaster relief; 25 percent for peacekeeping; 21 percent for humanitarian relief; and only 11 percent for Korean or Vietnam police action.

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Firing on U.S. Citizens?

While all of the questions in this survey should have stimulated concern, the survey’s final question has generated an enormous amount of attention:


The U.S. government declares a ban on the possession, sale, transportation, and transfer of all non-sporting firearms. A thirty (30) day amnesty period is permitted for these firearms to be turned over to the local authorities. At the end of this period, a number of citizen groups refuse to turn over their firearms. Consider the following statement: I would fire upon U.S. citizens who refuse or resist confiscation of firearms banned by the U.S. government.

The survey results: 42.3 percent strongly disagreed with this statement; 19.3 percent disagreed; 18.6 percent agreed; 7.6 percent strongly agreed; and 12.0 percent had no opinion. In one of the footnotes appearing in his thesis, Cunningham quotes comments placed by some of the Marines next to their answers to this question: "What about the damn Second Amendment? … I feel this is a first in communism! … Read the book None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen." "I would not even consider it. The reason we have guns is so that the people can overthrow the gov’t when or if the people think the gov’t is too powerful." "Freedom to bear arms is our Second Amendment. If you take our Amendments away then you can take this job and stick it where the sun don’t shine! … It is a right to own firearms for defense (2nd Amendment); I would fight for that right!"

Based on the disagreement expressed by 61 percent of the Marines, Cunningham concluded that "a complete unit breakdown would occur in a unit tasked to execute this mission."

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Cunningham’s Deficiencies

In his interview with THE NEW AMERICAN, Cunningham claimed to be appalled that so many Marines would be willing to serve in non-traditional roles that conflict with the purpose of our military or to serve under UN command. He even volunteered that he "didn’t agree personally with any portion of the survey" even though he is "its sole author, originator, and creator." Yet the thesis he submitted gave no indication of any such sentiments. Just the opposite, in fact.

In his thesis, Cunningham states that "The legitimacy of operations other than war is rooted in the constitutional powers of the Executive," and that such operations and the placement of "U.S. forces under operational control of United Nations personnel are legitimate." [Emphasis added.] Not so, according to our reading of the Constitution and the thinking of those who wrote it. The military is not the President’s to use as he wishes; his designation as "Commander in Chief" is an occasional assignment of responsibility, not a wholesale grant of power.

Betraying a poor understanding of the proper role of the military, Cunningham claims: "But the Framers also granted the Executive the latitude to use the Federal troops under his command as a tool of diplomacy when he deemed it appropriate. This was the case in both Korea and Vietnam." That kind of thinking has gotten this nation into undeclared wars, led to casualties in the hundreds of thousands, and entangled our nation ever more deeply in the United Nations and its subsidiary organizations.

Cunningham’s claims that he is a defender of the U.S. Constitution have to be questioned when he writes: "Future U.S. missions may require the inclusion of international soldiers in U.S. units and, in some cases, when national security interests dictate, the President of the United States may appoint a competent United Nations officer to exercise operational control over U.S. contingents."

But what about the fact that most U.S. military personnel apparently don’t want to serve in "peacekeeping" missions? "Some may argue that the military need only incorporate the necessary indoctrination and training, "Cunningham notes in his thesis". But doing so would require establishing formal training and indoctrination programs … thus, in effect, building a completely new program from the ground up. Another possibility may be more realistic. Realizing the conflict and incongruity peacekeeping represents in a combat organizational model, it may be necessary to bifurcate the military. Such a change could promote specialization and provide an opportunity to those who desire peacekeeping duty. Perhaps it is time to designate separate fighting forces and peacekeeping forces."

Cunningham’s own survey results demonstrate that there is solid opposition to converting the U.S. military into an adjunct of a New World Army. Yet his outrageous suggestion provides the globalists with an opportunity for circumventing that opposition. If implemented, it would undoubtedly be, not an end in itself, but another ominous step toward the abandonment of the traditional role of the U.S. military. Yet there is good reason to believe that these subversive plans will never be accomplished -- as the heroic stand of Army Specialist Michael New amply demonstrates.

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