KABUL, Afghanistan --
The commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps visited Kabul Nov. 25, just days after visiting with Marines in Iraq.
Marine Gen. James T. Conway and Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent met with Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan leaders to discuss the current and future operational security forces situation in Afghanistan, and later met locally-based Marines at the International Security Assistance Forces dining facility.
Accompanied by Marine Lt. Gen. George J. Trautman III, deputy commandant for aviation, and Lt. Gen. John W. Bergman, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North; the top Marines spent time conversing with nearly 50 Marines during lunch. Marines from ISAF, the U.S. Embassy and CSTC-A, including Camp Eggers and Camp Blackhorse, were among those who gathered to hear the commandant and sergeant major speak.
Conway opened the luncheon stating, “The first thing I would like to say to you folks is simply, ‘thank you.’” He then told the Marines that he traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan so he could spend Thanksgiving with his “family” – referring to deployed Marines.
The commandant wanted the Marines to know they and their fellow leathernecks in Iraq are doing a good job. “It’s too early to be doing high fives in the end zone, but we’re certainly in the red zone,” Conway said, referring to scoring a touchdown in football.
The commandant also spoke about manpower and combat support issues, such as the Corps’ growing manpower numbers and the current and potential future of mine resistant ambush protected vehicles. Conway said the Marine Corps recruiters had exceeded the recruiting goal for fiscal 2007. He also said the Corps has not lost a single Marine in an MRAP accident, but added that their weight is not ideal for an expeditionary force.
Kent followed the commandant by thanking the Marines and encouraging young noncommissioned officers to consider reenlisting in the Corps after there contracts expire.
“I have stuck around the Marine Corps because of warriors like you,” Kent said. “And you know it’s not about the money,” he quipped.
The sergeant major spoke about Marine Corps standards and an upcoming revision of the body composition program order before he introduced the newly-approved Marine Corps physical fitness uniform.
After a question and answer period, the commandant and sergeant major invited Marines to take pictures with them – most took advantage of the opportunity.
The top Marines’ visit was their second to Afghanistan since August. They departed from Kabul International Airport as quickly as they arrived – the same afternoon – flying out on helicopters.