The top U.S. Marine commander was bitterly criticized Tuesday for what one U.S. senator called the "repugnant" scandal involving nude photographs of female Marines.
General Robert Neller faced questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee over his response to pictures posted on Facebook without the knowledge or permission of the women.
"It's a serious problem when we have members of our military denigrating female Marines, who will give their life to this country in the way they have, with no response from leadership," Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York complained.
Gillibrand demanded to know how the Marine Corps expected to confront "Russian aggression" if it could not crack Facebook. She also asked why Marine leaders had done nothing, even though social media harassment of service members has been going on since 2013.
'I own this'
"I don't have a good answer for you," Neller responded. "I'm responsible. I'm the commandant. I own this, and we are going to have to ... change how we see ourselves and how we treat each other."
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said such scandals would hurt recruitment.
A Facebook group called "Marines United" displayed nude pictures of female Marines. Most of the pictures were taken secretly, while those who willingly posed had the pictures posted without their permission.
"Marines United" had as many as 30,000 members before Facebook removed the group.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the "lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of fellow members of the Department of Defense is unacceptable."
Under the U.S. Code of Military Justice, any service member who distributes such photos could face a court-martial.