FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 21, 2008
CMC: ‘TF 2/7 has shown what Marines can do’
Article and photos by Cpl. Steve Cushman
Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division
CAMP BARBER, Afghanistan – Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway visited with Marines and other service members here assigned to Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, Aug. 14.
Upon arriving here in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, Task Force Commander Lt. Col. Richard D. Hall briefed the four-star general on operations conducted by the task force since deploying here in early April to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
General Conway was accompanied by his sergeant major, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent. As the commandant sat in the conference room and listened to a brief on combat operations, Sgt. Maj. Kent gathered with Marines and other task force members in front of the flagpole at the camp’s entrance. After the short meeting, the commandant and his party returned to the flight line to fly to Forward Operating Base Golestan to meet with Marines and sailors serving there.
After meeting with the commanders of Company G and touring the outpost, Gen. Conway discussed the task force’s extension in country and the possibility of being replaced by another Marine unit.
“I probably could have told you that when you came here, you would probably get extended,” Gen. Conway said. “It didn’t come as a surprise at all. We told the Secretary of Defense, ‘we understand what the risk is, and we understand the need for the Marines there.’”
Consistent with comments he’s made in the press, Gen. Conway said that in order to deploy more Marines to Afghanistan in significant numbers, there must be a reduction in the number of Marines in Iraq.
“We’re not big enough to do both Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
After meeting the company and platoon commanders, the commandant and sergeant major then met with junior Marines who conduct daily combat patrols in the face of significant enemy threat.
“You’ve shown what Marines can do,” Gen. Conway said. “When we were getting ready to deploy you, I predicted that ‘commanders are going to fall in love with us. We’re going to do a hell of a job, and we’re going to be asked to extend and asked to replace you with more Marines.’ I predicted that.”
His words were immediately followed by those of his sergeant major, who commended the Marines for the level of leadership displayed by the noncommissioned officers.
“The biggest population of the Marine Corps is the NCO-and-below population, and we trust you. We push leadership down to you, and you never fail us… we know that you’ll do the right thing all the time,” Sgt. Maj. Kent said. “You know people say the Corps is the most feared and respected fighting force in the world. It’s because of warriors like you. We are extremely proud of you.”
Upon reaching the FOB, the commandant promoted two junior-ranking officers, 1st Lts. Patrick J. Caffrey and Michael P. Hoyt, to their present grade; awarded a Purple Heart Medal to Staff Sgt. Harold A. Young, a Golf Company platoon sergeant who was wounded by an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) attack and has since returned to his platoon; and presided over the reenlistment ceremony of Cpl. Jonah J. Long and Lance Cpl. Frank M. Tenuta.
“This was a big honor. How many people can say they have been reenlisted by the commandant?” asked Lance Cpl. Tenuta, a rifleman assigned to the battalion commander’s Personal Security Detachment. “You look on the certificate, and it has the commandant’s name on it. It’s a very rare thing.”
Upon ending the visit to the FOB, Sgt. Maj. Kent left with the same message he passed to the Marines serving at the headquarters camp.
“Marines, war-hardened veterans of previous wars, they talk to us all the time and they tell us, ‘thank those Marines, because they’re truly living up to their expectations,’” Sgt. Maj. Kent said. “As a matter of fact, the veterans will even say most of the time that you’re better than they were, and that says a lot. It is Marines like you that will carry the Corps for years to come. The Marines who just reenlisted, you are going to take the Corps to the next level.”
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