CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Marines, Sailors and civilian Marines assigned to Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, gathered for a town hall meeting with the commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps Feb. 9 at the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, headquarters building, here.
The 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, visited the service members and civilians to share his vision of the Corps’ future in the Pacific, have face-to-face time with his Marines and answer their questions.
During his first trip to Hawaii as the Corps’ top leader, Amos announced the size of the Marine Corps will be reduced to 186,800 Marines, but not until one important task is accomplished; then a large chunk of the force will be redirected to the Pacific.
“No, we are not going to come down until we get out of Afghanistan,” Amos stressed to the Marines. “We’re going to blow the balloon back up in the Pacific. That’s where the future of the Marine Corps is.”
Then, Amos explained the role of the Marine Corps, outlined in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, and his goals to bring the Marine Corps back to its expeditionary roots with a focus on improving logistics to ensure Marines can rapidly deploy and sustain themselves for extended periods of time without the support of local infrastructure.
“I spoke with President Obama before coming out here and he said to me, ‘The good thing about Marines is we can send you in and you’ll figure it out when you get there,’” the commandant said. “That’s who we are, that agile middleweight boxer who can respond to today’s crisis with today’s force - today. When there is a crisis, we want (the president) to say, ‘Send in the Marines.’”
During his visit, Amos fielded questions from the audience, which included the future of cyberspace operations as it pertains to the Marine Corps, and the future of Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command.
Despite speculation from news agencies of thousands of Marines to be forced out of the Corps at the end of the war, Amos and Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, sergeant major of the Marine Corps, assured the Marines that the drawdown will not be a repeat of the mass reduction that occurred at the end of the Gulf War. Quality Marines will be given an opportunity to stay Marine.
According to Kent, he and the commandant recently met a Marine who had lost both his legs in combat and despite the severity of his injuries, wanted to remain an active-duty Marine.
“The commandant told him he could. You don’t have to worry about the Marine Corps’ future, because you have a commandant who will fight for you.
“That’s why we are the most feared and respected fighting force in the world, because we take care of each other,” Kent continued. “The commandant has trust and confidence in you.”
Today’s Marines have earned that trust after nearly a decade of combat.
“You no longer have a legacy to live up to because you’ve carved your own,” Kent said. “There is a recruit on the yellow footprints right now learning about the legacy you’ve made.”