The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sergeant Major Carlton W. Kent stopped in the Twin Cities Sept. 18 to visit the recruiting station Marines and deliver an important message on their way through the Midwest for a speaking engagement.
Conway thanked recruiters for working harder than ever to achieve Marine Corps’ increased recruiting challenge. He requested permission last year to gradually increase the end strength of the Marine Corps from 175,000 to 202,000 by 2011. The president approved the request and all eyes fell on the Marine Corps Recruiting Command to make the request a reality.
Seeing the affects and reality of the long war on terrorism, Conway proposed the increase, stating the need to reduce the strain of multiple deployments and provide more time to train for all contingencies – the very essence of the Marine Corps as the nation’s “shock troops.”
The job recruiters are doing is vital to the success of the Marine Corps, Conway said. “We know we need to use those extra troops in the needed (military occupational specialties),” he said.
Conway stressed the importance of solid leadership to maintain the Corps’ high standards and how important it is to get off on the right foot and prove to legislators that the Marine Corps can get the job done.
“My hat goes off to you (the recruiters),” said Conway. “You have my applause and admiration.”
Kent echoed the commandant’s thoughts.
“We were excited to come out and say ‘thank you.’ You are doing great things, and it’s a great time to be a Marine,” he told the crowd of about 75 Marines.
“It was motivating to get a pat on the back from our senior leadership,” said Sgt. Late Lawson, a canvassing recruiter for Recruiting Substation Coon Rapids, Minn. The Commandant presented awards to a few outstanding Marines during his visit, including Lawson, RS Twin Cities’ August Recruiter of the Month. “I don’t like to be in the spotlight, but it did feel good to be recognized by the commandant,” he said.
Conway and Kent fielded questions from the Marines concerning recent hot button issues such as bonuses, promotions, physical fitness tests and combat operations, which both he and Kent spoke on from a September trip. Conway delivered a “good news” perspective concerning the Iraq War.
“The Al Anbar province has made a dramatic turn for the better,” he said. “The Sunnis are helping take care of business.” He assured the Marines the morale in Iraq is as high as ever.
“We have great warriors,” he said “They’re hooking and jabbing every day.”
Although much progress is taking place in Iraq, Conway reminded the Marines that the war on terrorism will continue on.
“We have much fighting yet to do,” he said