FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. –
An experienced leader of Soldiers and a tough-as-nails trailblazer, retired Maj. Gen. Marion Garcia has earned induction into the Military Police Regimental Association Hall of Fame.
A child of hard work and ambition, Garcia is the daughter of a Marine officer and an au pair-turned-travel agent, retired Lt. Col. Lou Garcia and Vivian Piaget, respectively. Lou Garcia entered the Marine Corps as a private, received his commission in Vietnam, and retired as a lieutenant colonel after 33 years of service. Vivian Piaget speaks three languages fluently. While working as an au pair for an embassy family in Poland, she met Lou Garcia when he was a young Marine, stationed in Poland on embassy duty. Seeing her parents’ examples as bearers of high standards, Marion Garcia knew her calling in life--military service.
Young Marion Garcia entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1983, a school which first graduated women in 1980. When Garcia graduated from West Point in 1987, women were not allowed to branch into combat arms.
“As a woman commissioning in 1987, the Military Police Corps, which at the time was focused on combat support, was the closest thing to combat arms that I could get,” said Garcia. “I wanted to be where the action was, so I asked for military police and was fortunate enough to get it.“
As a second lieutenant in Korea, Garcia earned recognition as the top platoon leader within her battalion. She acknowledged “there was some shock” when her battalion commander chose her, a woman, as the best platoon leader to represent the military police in the 2nd Infantry Division’s Team Spirit exercise, an annual exercise combining the efforts of both republic of Korea and United States soldiers.
“I was part of a command structure which valued me as an individual and did not prejudge me based on superficial circumstances,” said Garcia. “The MP Corps was ahead of its time, and I always knew that I was part of a team of professionals.”
Garcia has seen the entire spectrum of the MP world. She served as a platoon leader in both Germany and in Korea; commanded the Fort Hood-based Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 720th Military Police Battalion which deployed for Operation Provide Comfort in Somalia; commanded the Pennsylvania-based 324th Military Police Battalion which deployed to Baghdad, Iraq; commanded the Illinois-based 3rd Brigade/3rd Division/75th Training Command; served as deputy commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and commanded the 200th Military Police Command, headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Garcia credits active listening as one of her leadership tools.
“The best ideas came from the Soldiers,” said Garcia, reminiscing on her days as a battalion commander running a detention facility in Iraq. “All I had to do was listen, challenge the staff to fill out the details, and resource their ideas. To work with motivated, creative young people is a blessing.”
Through deployment after deployment, Garcia has seen the military police branch accomplish its multifocal mission set.
“We are unique in our supporting role. In peacetime the law enforcement role is critical to good order and discipline across the force,” said Garcia, through a lens influenced by multinational and multideployment experience. “In transitioning to hostilities, we ensure orderly movements. In wartime, we support the smooth flow of logistics and manage the enemy prisoners as well as the civilian population flow, allowing the warfighters to move forward. Then we transition back in phases.”
Proud of her pro-MP bias, Garcia articulated, “We don’t need to be the main effort. We are the best effort.”
Maj. Gen. John F. Hussey succeeded Garcia as commander of the 200th Military Police Command, a 14,000-strong unit headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, with brigades and battalions throughout the United States.
“Maj. Gen. Garcia is one of the most knowledgeable officers on military police doctrine that the regiment has ever produced,” said Hussey. “She was a training management guru who was second to none in demanding training excellence of herself and her troops.”
Lt. Col. John Mullaney served as a Deputy Operations Officer (G-3) in the 200th Military Police Command for three years and then, directly reporting to Garcia from 2015 to 2017, as the Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander for three more years.
“Maj. Gen. Garcia is a visionary leader who understood the need for military police to be prepared to be able to conduct operations under austere conditions and with imperfect or nonfunctioning technology,” said Mullaney. “She challenged subordinate leaders to live up to their full potential and to be worthy of leading America’s sons and daughters into combat”
How Garcia has been able to serve as a leader of military police Soldiers and as a leader in the veterinary sciences field is, at least in part, due to her passion for education. Education is a major foundation of her progression in both her military and civilian careers. Garcia earned her Bachelor of Science in engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1987; doctorate in veterinary medicine from Colorado State University in 1998; a master's degree in military strategic studies from the Army War College in 2010; and a master’s degree in veterinary preventive medicine, epidemiology, and public health from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 2015. Today, she is the director of veterinary services at Hybrid Turkeys.
“‘Of the Troops! For the Troops!’ Those two statements guide us daily,” said Garcia, explaining her inspiration for leadership. “They remind us where we come from and why we exist.”
“‘Assist! Protect! Defend!’ Three action verbs, all three selfless,” said Garcia, explaining her passion for service. “All three are focused on helping others. All three remind us of our duty to our fellow Soldiers.”