Marine Infantry Leader Fired for Loss of Trust Weeks Before Deployment

Lt. Col. John Giannella (U.S. Marine Corps photo)
Lt. Col. John Giannella (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The commanding officer of a North Carolina-based infantry unit that's gearing up to deploy to Europe in coming weeks has been relieved of command, Military.com has learned.

Lt. Col. John Giannella was removed from his job as commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, based at Camp Lejeune. Giannella was fired over a "loss of trust and confidence in his ability to effectively lead 3/8," said Maj. Jordan Cochran, a spokesman for II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Marine officials did not immediately respond to requests for additional details about Giannella's relief, including who made the decision to remove him from his job and the date the relief occurred.

Elements of Giannella's unit have been preparing to deploy to Norway. Members of 3/8 recently wrapped up a pre-deployment evaluation exercise at Lejeune and completed cold-weather training in Alaska and at the Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California, earlier this year.

Giannella is at least the second Marine infantry leader to be relieved of command since May. Lt. Col. Marcus Mainz, the former commander of Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, was fired from his job in May while deployed to the Middle East.

Prior to taking the helm of the infantry battalion, he served as assistant program development officer for Programs and Resources with Headquarters Marine Corps until July 2017, according to his official bio.

The infantry officer previously served with 3/8 as a rifle platoon commander and executive officer with India Company. He served in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2008 and in Helmand province, Afghanistan, from 2009 to 2010.

He also served as an aide-de-camp while assigned to the staff of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert in 2015.

Giannella will be replaced by Lt. Col. Neil Berry, Cochran said. Berry previously served as an operations officer with 3rd Marine Regiment in Hawaii and as a company commander with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, according to his LinkedIn profile.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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