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General James T. Conway, commadant of the Marine Corps, speaks to members of the Military Officers' Association of America during their annual meeting held at Coronado Island, Calif., Oct. 24.

Photo by Cpl. Deanne Hurla

Corps’ top leaders visit station

5 Jun 2009 | Lance Cpl. Ryan Rholes

Both the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps visited the Bob Hope Theater aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, June 5, to speak to air station Marines about current events relevant to the Marine Corps.

Gen. James T. Conway and Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent addressed an attentive audience of more than 400 Marines, speaking about deployments and dwell time, plans for combat operations in Afghanistan, reducing alcohol related incidents and the Marine Corps drawdown in Iraq.

“Them visiting makes me feel like they really care about the Marine Corps and about their Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Nehemias Gonzalez, a supply clerk for Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38. “A lot of branches don’t have a chance to meet and hear their leaders like this.”

Conway talked about Marines leaving Iraq by 2010, and shifting focus to subduing a growing insurgency in Afghanistan.

The Marine Corps is leaving Iraq victorious, explained Conway. Drawing out and turning control over to remaining Army units and the Iraqi government will allow the Marine Corps to field additional troops in Afghanistan. This will allow the eventual increase of Marines in Afghanistan from 11,000 to approximately 20,000.

After speaking about future operations, Conway informed his audience about innovations in Marine Corps equipment. He spoke about the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter in 2012, the MV-22 Osprey in Afghanistan and about the development and successful testing of a new helmet proven capable of stopping 7.62 millimeter rounds, increased capabilities of the KC-130J and lightening the load of combat troops deploying to Afghanistan.

Conway also addressed the need to begin broadening the Corps’ training spectrum to once again encompass the full potential of the Marine Corps as a fighting force.

“We do plan on increasing dwell time to 14 months for every seven-month deployment cycle, but we need to use some of that dwell time to get back to our roots,” said Conway. “We need to focus on amphibious landings, cold-weather training, mountain warfare training, jungle warfare training and combined arms exercises.”

Marines can see what is going on, explained Conway. Any day someone could call up the Marines to pack their bags and head to Korea. The Marine Corps has to be ready to answer that call.

After speaking, both figureheads opened the floor for questions from attending Marines. They answered queries regarding plans for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, child care funding and ways to reduce alcohol related incidents in the Corps.

“Your country values what you do and what you are able to accomplish,” said Kent during his closing remarks. “You are the world’s most feared fighting force in the world for a reason. We plan to keep it that way.”