As they toured the Pacific, the commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps addressed more than 200 Marines at the Pollock Theater Feb. 5.
General James T. Conway opened by congratulating Marines for a job well-done in Iraq, informing them about current operations in Afghanistan and preparing them for what’s to come.
“The Marine Corps has closed the chapter on Iraq. [The Marine Corps undertook] very different taskings, all that we flowed in and out of seamlessly,” said Conway. “You can be very proud of our Corps and of your contribution.”
Now that the Marine Corps has a larger concentrated effort in Afghanistan, Conway told Marines to expect a presence in the volatile regions of the country to suppress the Taliban.
Conway also told Marines to prepare for a renewed focus on the Marine Corps’ amphibious roots and combined arms capabilities.
“We’ve become the world’s best counterinsurgency force. But, what we have not done is stay abreast of our amphibious requirements, combined arms exercises and live fire training,” said Conway. “We used to be a Marine Corps that said ‘any time, any place, any enemy.’ Right now that rings a little hollow, but we all recognize that and we’re going to get back to that.”
Following the Commandant, Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent acknowledged the high numbers the Marine Corps is seeing today in recruitment and retention. He also charged Marines with doing their part to eradicate issues negatively impacting the Corps, mainly suicide and sexual assault.
After speaking, the two opened the floor for questions from Marines which included concerns about the Corps’ tattoo policy, educating Marines on proper running form, the economy’s impact on the Corps and combat fitness.
“Whatever you decide to do with your Marine Corps career, now, and for the rest of your lives, you need to hold your head high,” said Conway. “You are the nation’s warrior class. You’ve stepped up and volunteered to serve in a time when your nation needed you.”