MARFORPAC Deputy Commander Assesses Troop Buildup in Kuwait[MIGRATE]

By Cpl. Danielle M. Bacon, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Public Affairs | February 16, 2004

The Deputy Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific today visited Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force who are deployed to Kuwait for the reception, staging, onward movement and integration phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

In assessing the current buildup of troops and equipment, Brig. Gen. Jerry C. McAbee toured Camp Udairi, meeting with Marines from both 1st Marine Division and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

"Up to this point the deployment for OIF II has been a lot more smooth than the deployment for OIF I...in that we have done just a great job of getting our supplies and people to the airfield...and getting our equipment to the docks to put on board the ships," said McAbee. "It has all gone like clock work. This time it has gone virtually flawless."

Although not his first stop, McAbee's pause at the 7th Marine Regiment command post may have been his most important. It was there he saw the final product of armoring the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle A2.

In order to lower the costs of each vehicle, the Marine Corps decided to purchase the 5,200-pound HMMWV without the armor plating and add it on later.

"I think the most important difference between this time and last is the armor plating that is being placed on the HMMWVs, 7-ton trucks and other rolling stock. We didn't do or have that last time," McAbee said.

Although new armor was one of McAbee's highest priorities it was not his only concern.

"The first hope that all of us have is that we return home uninjured," McAbee said. "The second thing is that we want our Marines to develop and take home leadership skills and great tactical skills that will hold the Marine Corps to its standards for the next thirty years. We are developing our leaders and our combat proficiency. We want our good Marines to stay - to learn a lot - to come back and lead, and make a career out of it."

While eating lunch with several junior enlisted Marines, McAbee reflected on the combat readiness of the Marines he saw at Camp Udairi.

McAbee added, "I don't think we have ever sent a group of Marines and sailors into harm's way who are better led, better manned or better equipped than the force that we are getting ready to send into Iraq. All Americans should take a great deal of pride in their Marine Corps."