CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Few Marines have impacted the Marine Corps' foreign relations around the globe as much as the accomplishments of Marine combat engineers. Whether the task is repairing roads in hurricane-devastated Latin America, rebuilding schools in Indonesia, or purifying water and passing out food to a starving populace during a humanitarian assistance mission, the engineers have been there paving the way -- sometimes quite literally.
The leaders of the Corps engineering community gathered here Jan. 23-25 for the annual Marine Corps Engineer conference at the Paradise Point Officers' Club.
The conference theme was "Improving engineer support to the MAGTF," and was geared toward recommending engineering policy and procedures for the Marine Corps in the 21st century.
Hosted by the Marine Corps Engineer School, the conference was attended by leaders from within the engineering community, according to Col. Joseph Musca, commanding officer, MCES.
"We have about ninety people here from the Combat Engineer Battalions, Engineer Support Battalions and the Marine Wing Support Squadrons -- all of the engineering units," said Musca. "We cover all the Marine Air Ground Task Force and come together to review requirements and equipment issues."
In addition to Marine engineers, representatives from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy Seabees, and the Department of Defense were also in attendance.
The ultimate goal of the meeting was to provide relevant information for commanders and planners to use as a baseline for engineering operations and strategic planning. They discussed the most critical capabilities and weaknesses of the engineers and wartime engineering missions that are neglected during peacetime.
Lieutenant Gen. Gary S. McKissock, deputy chief of staff for Installation and Logistics, Headquarters Marine Corps, detailed some changes the engineering community needed to see to remain in tune with Marine Corps mission in future warfare.
McKissock touched on the need to store surplus engineering equipment possessed by the Marine Corps that exceeds the number of engineers trained to operate the equipment. He also emphasized the responsibility of taking care of the Marines in the engineering community.
"A lot of great things were done by logisticians during the Gulf War, but the real work was done on the backs of lance corporals," McKissock said. "The people in the engineering community have got to realize we are concerned not only with their professional life, but their personal life."
McKissock discussed the need of the Marine Corps engineering community to incorporate ideas and improvements by sources outside the military.
"It's important that we reach to civilians and people outside the Marine Corps and take their ideas," said McKissock, emphasizing the improvements in procedures and equipment in civilian companies. "You need to get out to civilian conferences and other places and see what is going on."
According to Musca, the topics discussed at the conference will have a long-range effect on the engineering community and the Marine Corps.
"Ultimately the recommendations from these meetings will filter to Headquarters Marine Corps so they can prioritize how the engineering community fits into the scheme of things as a whole and how they can better support the MAGTF," Musca said.
For more information on the engineering community, visit their web site at www.usmc-engr.com.