Lejeune Marines meet new commandant

29 Nov 2006 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

Making his first trip to the fleet Marine force as newly appointed Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway let his Camp Lejeune Marines know that, while those who are on the front lines are his first priority, those who remain behind can expect to see a few changes during his tenure as the 34th commandant.

Conway visited the base Nov. 29-30 to meet with his Marines and to explain some of the points made in his Commandant’s Planning Guidance letter he recently released. Among the highlights are: Maintaining a 1-2 deployment to dwell ratio, growing the force to meet current and future operational needs, a new physical training uniform and increasing training exercises and proficiency in warfighting capabilities such as jungle warfare.

“While in Iraq, we have gotten very, very good at counter-insurgency techniques,” he said. “However, as a result, the skills Marines need for combined arms maneuver, mountain warfare, amphibious and jungle operations have deteriorated.” He further explained that by increasing the amount of time Marines and sailors have at home, they will be able to more fully train and hone their skills, while spending more time with their families.

“Right now, many of the Marines are coming back from Iraq, spending time with their families, and turning right around and getting ready for Iraq again,” he explained. “I want them to have more time at home with their families and more time to train for different environments.

Recently, we have become very good at fighting our nation’s enemies, just not very good at predicting where they will be coming from. We need to be ready for every threat.” In order to meet this 1-2 ratio, Conway said Marines might have to be added to the fleet. “In order to do this, we need to have three of  everything,” he said.

“We’re not there right now, gang; right now, we’re doing just better than one-to-one. Right now we have people looking into this and highlighting areas of friction so we can make this happen.”

Another topic he discussed during his town-hall style meetings in Geottge Field House was the creation of a new PT uniform. He is looking for suggestions from the Marines on the look and features they want.

However, the focus will always be on the Marines who are forward deployed and in harms way, he said. “That will never change.”

Replacing equipment and upgrading current capabilities will be a priority during the coming months, as will creating a Wounded Warrior Regiment that will open Wounded Warrior  Battalions on each coast.

“To all our injured warriors; those Marines who suffer visible wounds and those who bear the less visible wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury,” he stated in his guidance letter, “our commitment to you will not falter.”