General fires two Marine officers in the same day

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Coby Moran, left, the outgoing commanding officer of the School of Infantry – West, and Col. Seth MacCutcheon, the incoming commanding officer of SOI-West, salute a passing formation during a change of command ceremony at SOI-West on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, June 24, 2022. Moran reported to SOI-West in July of 2020. MacCutcheon is reporting from U.S. Marine Forces Pacific. Moran is a native of Seattle; MacCutcheon is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alison Dostie)

By Michael Swaney

The Marine Corps has confirmed two officers were relieved of their commands at Camp Pendleton on the same day.

On March 8, Marine Corps Training Command leader Brig. Gen. Farrell Sullivan relieved Col. Seth MacCutcheon of his command of the School of Infantry–West, and Maj. Nicolas Engle of his command of the school’s Reconnaissance Training Company.

Training Command spokesman Maj. Joshua Pena said the two commanders were relieved for “loss of trust and confidence in their ability to execute the responsibilities of their commands,” in a statement.

“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.”

The School of Infantry–West is where new Infantry Marines learn about reconnaissance, light armored reconnaissance, and assault amphibian entry-level and basic combat skills training.

Colonel Seth MacCutcheon deployed to Kosovo and then later served as the CAAT Platoon Commander for OIF I in 2003.

“After his return from OIF, Captain MacCutcheon reported to The Basic School where he served as an instructor, Combat Instructor Platoon Commander, and lastly as an IOC instructor. After TBS/IOC and upon completion of Expeditionary Warfare School, he reported to 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion where he deployed to Iraq as a Company Commander. After that deployment, he cross-decked to 3d Battalion, 7th Marines and deployed again as Company Commander to Iraq,” his bio states.

Then Major Seth W. MacCutcheon discusses traits and principles of effective leadership during the leadership workshop portion of the leadership academy at River Ridge High School in Woodstock, GA, March 1, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Courtney G. White)

He then was assigned to a recruiting tour, after which, he returned to 1st Marine Division and served as the BNXO of 1/5, the Commander of 3/1, and then the XO of 1st Marines.

Then Maj. Seth MacCutcheon addressed the poolees and Marines of Recruiting Station Atlanta at the RS Atlanta annual field meet at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Ga., April 12, 2014. The field meet brought together high school seniors and graduates from the northern half of Georgia to compete in various physical events including fire flips, stretcher relays, log drills and an iron man competition. MacCutcheon was the commanding officer of RS Atlanta. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Courtney G. White/released)

“After that time, Lieutenant Colonel MacCutcheon attended the Israeli National Defense College in Tel Aviv and from there was stationed in the J-5 of USEUCOM where he served as the SE Europe/Middle East Plans Branch Chief and Israel Desk Officer. Lastly, after finishing his time in Europe, Lieutenant Colonel MacCutcheon served as the AC/S G-5 for US Marine Forces Pacific.”

He assumed command of the infantry school in June 2022.

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

A month later, Lance Cpl. Joseph Whaley, 20, was killed by a “negligent discharge” during nighttime live-fire training as part of the school’s Basic Reconnaissance Course.

Colonel MacCutcheon personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal w/ ‘Valor’, the Meritorious Service Medal, and various meritorious unit awards.

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