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Marine infantry battalion leaders fired over rifle incident

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Lt. Col. Clinton Kappel (left) and Sgt. Maj. Elson Aviles (right). (Images: U.S. Marine Corps)

The leaders in charge of the USMC infantry battalion that lost two rifles during a training exercise in North Carolina have been relieved of duty.

The battalion commander and sergeant major of the 3rd Battalion 6th marines were effectively fired by 2nd Marine Division commander Major General David Furness, who cited the loss of trust and confidence as the reason for his decision.

The men have been identified as Lt. Col. Clinton Kappel and Sgt. Maj. Elson Aviles.

”2nd Marine Division must continue to put our subordinate units in the best position to fight and win,” 2nd MARDIV spokesman 1LT Dan Linfante said. “As such, decisions like this are taken seriously and with the intent of ensuring a given unit’s continued success in future operations.”

The rifles went missing during a December 2019 training exercise at Camp Lejeune, though Linfante did not specify that the incident was what led to

According to the Marine Corps Times, Kappel took over the unit in September of 2019 and was relatively new. He has since been replaced by Lt. Col. Ryan Gordinier.

A prior enlisted man, Kappel served as a radio operator following his enlistment in 1996 and earned his commission in 2001.

Avilles joined the USMC in 1997 as a combat engineer and was promoted to sergeant major in September of 2019.

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