The Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base sign outside the main gate of the base in Southern California.

The Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base sign outside the main gate of the base in Southern California. (San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps fired two commanders at its West Coast infantry school, the service announced Thursday.

Col. Seth MacCutcheon, commander of the School of Infantry-West, and Maj. Nicolas Engle, commander of Reconnaissance Training Company, were both relieved on March 8 by Brig. Gen. Farrell Sullivan, a Marine spokesperson said in a statement.

“[The commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Training Command] 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,” said Maj. Joshua Pena, a spokesman for Marine Corps Training Command, which oversees the school. “No additional information is available at this time.”

Under federal privacy law, military officials are not required to disclose the reasons for removing or reassigning personnel. Military officials often cite “a loss of confidence” when commanders are removed from their posts without providing any specifics that led to the decision.

Both units are based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., but these firings follow other leaders in charge of training programs in the Marine Corps being relieved of duty.

MacCutcheon in July removed Sgt. Maj. Steven Burkett, who had been the top noncommissioned officer at the School of Infantry-West for a little more than a year.

Lt. Col. Michael Masters, who had been the executive officer at Parris Island’s Recruit Training Regiment, was removed in September after being arrested on battery and child cruelty charges in Florida.

Masters was the third high-ranking leader at Parris Island removed from his position. Col. Bradley Ward, who had commanded the recruit regiment since July 2021, and his senior enlisted leader Sgt. Maj. Fabian Casillas were fired July 5 “for a loss of trust and confidence,” the Corps said at that time.

The School of Infantry-West is one of two schools where new Marines must go for the second stage of initial military education after they finish recruit training. The School of Infantry-East is located at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Recruits from areas east of the Mississippi River are usually sent to the North Carolina school while those from west of the river attend the California school.

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Matthew Adams covers the Defense Department at the Pentagon. His past reporting experience includes covering politics for The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and The News and Observer. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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