James F. Amos

James F. "Jim" Amos (born November 12, 1946) is a retired United States Marine Corps officer who served as the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps. As a Naval Aviator, Amos commanded the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing during the Iraq War in 2003 and 2004. He served as the 31st Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from 2008 to 2010, and was the first Marine Corps aviator to serve as commandant.

James F. Amos
Amos in October 2010
Nickname(s)"Jim", "Tamer"[1]
Born (1946-11-12) November 12, 1946
Wendell, Idaho, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Navy (1970–1972)
United States Marine Corps (1972–2015)
Years of service1970–2015
Commands heldCommandant of the Marine Corps
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
Marine Corps Combat Development Command
II Marine Expeditionary Force
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Marine Aircraft Group 31
Battles/warsKosovo War
Iraq War
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal

Early life and education

The son of a career navy pilot, Amos was born on November 12, 1946, in Wendell, Idaho.[2] He graduated from the University of Idaho in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and economics, and was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy through Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps on January 23, 1970.[3] He attended pilot training in Pensacola, Florida, and was designated a Naval Aviator on November 23, 1971.[3] He was promoted to lieutenant junior grade in December 1971, and was subsequently granted an inter-service transfer to the United States Marine Corps in 1972.

Marine career

Joining Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 (VMFA-212) in the spring of 1972, Amos's ensuing operational assignments included tours with VMFA-235, VMFA-232, and VMFA-122, where he flew the F-4 Phantom II. In the fall of 1978, Amos left the active Marine Corps to become a commercial pilot for Braniff International Airways. He was employed with Braniff for 25 months, returning to the Marine Corps in January 1981.[4]

After a three-year posting as a flight instructor in advanced jet training, attendance at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, as a major, and a 13-month overseas staff assignment to the III Marine Amphibious Force, Okinawa, Japan, Amos was transferred to Marine Aircraft Group 24, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Promoted to lieutenant colonel, he assumed command of Marine Air Base Squadron 24, later re-designated as Marine Wing Support Squadron 173. Joining VMFA-212, in 1987, Lieutenant Colonel Amos deployed to the Western Pacific as the squadron's executive officer for what would be called "Operation Last Dance," the last overseas deployment of the Marine F-4 Phantom before it was phased out and retired.

Transitioning to the F/A-18 Hornet in the spring of 1990, Amos assumed command of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 VMFA-312, and took delivery of 12 new F/A-18C aircraft, becoming the Marine Corps’ first single-seat Night Attack Hornet squadron. In the summer of 1992, he and his squadron joined Carrier Air Wing Eight on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The squadron's strong performance was recognized in 1993 with the awarding of the Marine Corps Aviation Association's Hanson Trophy, recognizing 312 as the Marine Corps' top fighter/attack squadron. Following a two-year staff instructor assignment at Quantico, Virginia, where he was promoted to Colonel, Amos took command of Marine Aircraft Group 31, Beaufort, South Carolina in May 1996.

Promoted to brigadier general in 1998, Amos was assigned to NATO as the Deputy Commander, Naval Striking Forces, Southern Europe in Naples, Italy. During this tour, he commanded NATO's Kosovo Verification and Coordination Center in Skopje, Macedonia, and later served as the Chief of Staff, U.S. Joint Task Force Noble Anvil during the air campaign over Yugoslavia and Kosovo. Transferred to the Pentagon in the summer of 2000, Amos' other one-star assignments included posting as the Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation in 2000, and the Assistant Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations in 2001.

In August 2002, Amos was promoted to major general and assumed command of the 15,000 Marines of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based out of Miramar, California, leading them in combat twice between 2003 and 2004 during Operations Iraqi Freedom I and II. Receiving his third star in 2004, Lieutenant General Amos assumed command of the 45,000+ Marines and sailors of the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 2006, he was reassigned as the commanding general, Marine Corps' Combat Development Command, and as the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, at Quantico, Virginia, where he was responsible for the training of all Marines, their combat units, their continuing education, and for the identification of all Marine equipment requirements.

Receiving his fourth star in July 2008, Amos assumed duties as the 31st Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, based at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.[5] In June 2010, Amos was recommended Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for nomination as the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Amos was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 20,[6] who interviewed him for the job on June 17.[7][8] and confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 21,[9] and confirmed shortly thereafter. On October 22, 2010, in a ceremony at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., Amos assumed the position as Commandant.[10] This marked the first time a Marine aviator had held the position of Commandant, and the first time since 1983 that a sitting Assistant Commandant had moved up to become Commandant.

During his tenure as Commandant, Amos completed the Corps' combat mission in Afghanistan. Facing sequestration and the significant effects of the Budget Control Act, he fought to re-balance the Corps during the period of marked fiscal austerity, all while ensuring the combat readiness of the Marine Corps for its continued role as our nation's Expeditionary Crisis Response Force. Responding to multiple global challenges that had been critically acclaimed as "the new normal," he established Special Purpose – Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response commands in both Africa and the Middle East, while adding 1,000 Marine Security Guards to America's embassies around the world.[11][12] Additionally, during his final two years as Commandant, he shepherded the Corps' considerable efforts to address head-on its many challenges in recruiting and maintaining a diverse and talented body of Marines.[13] Lastly, he significantly raised the requirements and capacity within the Marine Corps University for all Marines to attend resident Professional Military Education.[14]

On October 17, 2014, at Marine Corps Barracks Washington, Amos relinquished command to General Joseph Dunford, who became the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus awarded Amos the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for his service as commandant and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel awarded him with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for over 4212 years of distinguished service. Amos retired from active duty on 1 December 2014.

Tenure as Commandant

F-35B, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

In November 2010, shortly after becoming commandant, Amos, along with the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, were notified of an over $4 billion shortfall in the JSF Program. Reacting to this and the steadily rising costs and delays in the program, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called a meeting with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Amos, ostensibly to cancel the Marine variant, the F-35B. Amos was successful in convincing Gates of the Corps' need for the aircraft, choosing rather to place the F-35B on a two-year probation to allow the program to mature and right itself. Amos' detailed and hands-on actions over the next 18 months ensured positive progress on the Marine variant in most areas of concern, resulting in Secretary Leon Panetta removing the F-35B from probation six months early. As a result, the Marine Corps was the first service to be able to stand up and operationally certify a Joint Strike Fighter squadron within the DoD.[15][16][17]

Shipbuilding and amphibious ships

After a decade plus of declining amphibious ship numbers in the U.S. Navy inventory, and increasing operational requirements for Marines around the world, Amos partnered with the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy Secretariat, and industry to reconfirm amphibious ship requirements, acceptable readiness levels, and total hull numbers. Working closely with the United States Congress, in the Senate and the House over two years of budgetary efforts, Congress authorized and appropriated monies to buy a, not-programmed, 12th San Antonio Class LPD amphibious war ship. Additionally, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Chief of Naval Operations, the Secretary of the Navy, and Amos agreeing to recapitalizing the Navy's more than 40-year-old LSD amphibious ships with the new, and proven, San Antonio Class hull design. This single agreement alone will result in millions of dollars saved over the lifetime of the LSD replacement effort, and will accelerate the completion and delivery of the ships years ahead of schedule.[18]

Montford Point Marines and the Congressional Gold Medal

In 2012, Amos partnered with key legislators In the US House and US Senate to bring national recognition to the service and sacrifices of the Corps' African American Montford Point Marines with the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal. African-American men were recruited into the Marine Corps under President Roosevelt's orders beginning in 1942. Establishing a segregated boot camp on a swampy point of land in Jacksonville, North Carolina known as Montford Point, the Marine Corps trained some 20,000 African American men between 1942 and 1949. Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alexander Vandegrift, closed down the segregated training in 1949, stating "The experiment with the negro Marines is over. They are Marines …Period!" The Montford Point Marines served in the Pacific during WWII, and again in 1951 during the Korean War. Their unique service to the United States had never been recognized at the national level until Amos initiated efforts to have them awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.[19] Final authorization was signed and the medal struck on November 23, 2011, recognizing the Montford Point Marines.[20][21]

Revising Marine Corps ethics

Sensing that 10 years of sustained combat may have begun fraying the edges of the Corps' moral fabric, Amos initiated an effort to morally and ethically "reground the Corps." The effort, named the "Reawakening", targeted the Corps' central leadership cadre, the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO). Amos and Sergeant Major Michael Barrett, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, spent the better part of 2013 traveling to most every Marine base to personally challenge the Corps' NCO leadership with getting back to the basics. The sole focus of the Reawakening was simply to remind Marines of their higher calling. Amos reinforced "who they were" as Marines, "what they did for the nation", and "who they were not".[22]

Repeal of don't ask, don't tell

As Commandant, Amos opposed the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding homosexuals openly serving in the U.S. military.[23] After President Obama signed the legislation setting the conditions for repeal, Amos led the Department of Defense in carrying out the will of the nation's civilian leadership.[24] In late November 2011, Amos stated that his opposition to gays openly serving in the military has proven unfounded and said that Marines have embraced the change, describing the repeal as a "non-event."[25]

Video of U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban fighters

U.S. Marine attorney, Major James Weirick, has alleged that Amos misused his power in the video of U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban fighters case,[26] but the Inspector General found that Amos was "reasonable under the circumstances".[27] Amos has said that he replaced Waldhauser only to ensure that whatever comments he had made did not cause unlawful command influence in the case.[28][29]

In August 2014, the Marine Corps Times wrote, "Amos was cleared in November of allegations he showed preferential treatment to the son of his predecessor as commandant, a field grade officer who held a senior leadership position with the scout snipers’ parent command."[30][31] Then last month the inspector general determined Weirick was not the subject of reprisal when he was removed from his job for confronting one of Amos’ legal advisers.[32]

The Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense cleared Amos of wrongdoing in summer 2014.[33]

On 8 November 2017, a military appeals court overturned the conviction of former Marine Corps Scout Sniper Staff Sgt. Joseph Chamblin, due to unlawful command influence by Amos. In their ruling, the court stated, "This is an unusually flagrant example of UCI. We find that UCI this direct, and occurring at this level, is highly corrosive to public trust in this proceeding." [34]

Personal life

Amos graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia and the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Since retiring from the Marine Corps, Amos has joined the board of directors of the Lord Corporation, a defense contractor.[35] He currently serves as chairman of the board of the Semper Fi Fund.[36]

Amos currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina where he is a member of the Charlotte Veterans Bridge Home, Advisory Board.

Awards and decorations

Amos holds the rifle sharpshooter and several awards of the pistol expert marksmanship badges.

Naval Aviator insignia
1st row Defense Distinguished Service Medal Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 award star Defense Superior Service Medal
2nd row Legion of Merit w/ 1 award star Bronze Star Medal Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal
3rd row Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Navy Presidential Unit Citation Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star
4th row National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Kosovo Campaign Medal w/ 2 service stars Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star
5th row Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Armed Forces Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 1 silver service star
6th row Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon w/ 1 service star 1st Class Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Cordon[37] Order of the Golden Fleece (Country of Georgia) NATO Medal for Yugoslavia w/ 1 service star
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

See also


  1. Walker, Mark (4 February 2011). "MILITARY: Changes loom for the Marine Corps". San Diego Union Tribune. The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  2. "Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps". USMC TECOM. Archived from the original on December 19, 2011.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  3. Bureau of Naval Personnel (Dec 1970). "Register of the commissioned and warrant officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps and reserve officers on active duty". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  4. Bacon, Lance M. (10 October 2014). "Marine Commandant Faces New Questions".
  5. United States Marine Corps History Division Marine Corps Assistant Commandants
  6. Cavallaro, Gina (20 July 2010). "Obama nominates Amos for commandant post". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  7. Ackerman, Spencer (June 21, 2010). "Gen. Amos Will Be the Next Marine Corps Commandant". The Washington Independent. Archived from the original on June 28, 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  8. "Defense Secretary Gates Announces Recommendations to the President on Senior Marine Corps Leadership Positions" (Press release). U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs). June 21, 2010. Retrieved 2013-06-21.
  9. Cavallaro, Gina (September 21, 2010). "Amos faces panel in confirmation hearing". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  10. Shea, Sgt Jimmy D. (22 October 2010). "Taking the Reins: Marine Corps Welcomes New Commandant". Headquarters Marine Corps. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  11. U.S Central Command. "Marines stand up Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force". Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  12. Amos, James. "2014 REPORT TO CONGRESS ON THE POSTURE OF THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS". Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  13. McMillan Portillo, Caroline. "Four-star general tapped Sheryl Sandberg to help Marines grow women in ranks". Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  14. Gatlin, Martin. "MARADMIN explains new PME requirements for enlisted Marines' promotions/".
  15. Butler, Amy (29 May 2013). "Marines Outline F-35B IOC Plans". Aviation Week Network. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  16. "Lockheed Martin Delivers Three F-35Bs To The U.S. Marine Corps" (Press release). Lockheed Martin. 20 Nov 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  17. "Granger, Dicks Applaud Secretary Panetta's Decision to Lift F-35B Stovl Probation" (Press release). Office of Congresswoman Kay Granger. January 20, 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  18. Freedberg, Sydney (9 May 2014). "HASC Puts Down Payment On 12th LPD — But Will Industry Ever See The Check?". Breaking Defense. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  19. Whidden, Naomi Heritage of first black Marines honored at Montford Point Marine Memorial, Jacksonville Daily News.com (July 29, 2016).
  20. Sanchez, Marcy (16 Oct 2014). "MONTFORD POINT MARINE WIDOW ACCEPTS CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL". Marines.Mil. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  21. Maurer, Kevin (4 Nov 2014). "The Marines of Montford Point". Our state. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  22. Amos, James F. (14 October 2013). "Document: USMC Commandant's Plan to 'Reawaken' the Marine Corps". USNI News. Retrieved 5 January 2016. The following are slides from U.S. Marine Corps Commandant James Amos Sept. 23, 2013 General Officer Symposium briefing
  23. Bumiller, Elisabeth (3 December 2010). "Service Chiefs Tell Panel of Risks to Repeal of Gay Ban". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  24. Martinez, Luis (January 31, 2011). "Marines step out smartly in DADT repeal". ABC News. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  25. Robert Burns, Marine commandant: End of gay ban a non-event Archived 2013-10-23 at the Wayback Machine, Associated Press (Nov. 28, 2011).
  26. Londono, Ernesto; Nakashima, Ellen (16 November 2013). "Fight escalates over case involving Marines urinating on corpses". Stars and Stripes. The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  27. "Amos cleared of favoritism charge in urination video case". Stars and Stripes. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  28. Seck, Hope Hodge (17 February 2014). "Amos breaks silence on scout sniper scandal". Military Times. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  29. deGrandpre, Andrew; Seck, Hope Hodge (20 February 2014). "Plot thickens after Marine Corps commandant's interview with NPR". Marine Corps Times. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  30. Seck, Hope Hodge (November 5, 2014). "Marine 3-star cleared in reprisal investigation". Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  31. "Politics, privilege and promotion — Marine brass contradicted investigation; promoted commandant's son, internal documents show". Military Times. June 4, 2013. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  32. deGrandpre, Andrew (14 August 2014). "Investigation clears top Marine general of tampering in sensitive legal cases". Army Times. Gannett Government Media. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17. Retrieved 16 October 2014. The Pentagon’s investigative agency has cleared the Marine Corps’ top general of allegations he and other senior officials manipulated military justice to ensure several troops were punished for a making an inappropriate video three years ago in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Times has learned.
  33. Hodge Seck, Hope (27 August 2014). "With IG ruling clearing Marine commandant, observers say openness will bring closure". Air Force Times. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  34. Seck, Hope (9 November 2017). "Court Overturns Conviction of Marine Who Urinated on Taliban Corpses". www.military.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  35. Corporation, LORD. "General James F. Amos, USMC, (ret.) Joins LORD Corporation Board of Directors". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  36. "Semper Fi Fund and America's Fund welcome General James F. Amos as new Chairman of the Board – Semper Fi Fund". Semper Fi Fund. 2015-07-20. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  37. "The 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, receives Japan's Order of the Rising Sun Award". April 15, 2014. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

Military offices
Preceded by
James T. Conway
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Joseph Dunford
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