AL ASAD, Iraq --
Instead of the age-old congratulations and pat on the back passed down the chain of command, Marines on the front lines in Iraq received a visit and words of thanks directly from the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.
During his Middle Eastern tour, the 16th Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, came to Al Asad, Sept. 24, on a well defined and concise mission--to thank his Marines.
“First of all, I wanted to come over here and thank them for what they do for our Corps and our country,” said Kent. “As you know, the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen and everyone in the Western part of Iraq are doing great things for our nation. This place has turned around and the local people trust us and we are out there each and every day doing great things.”
Kent spent most of the day visiting units aboard Al Asad assessing morale as well as mission accomplishment. Individual Marines had the opportunity to address the sergeant major one-on-one.
“I’ve been visiting Marines outside the wire and at different (Forward Operating Bases),” said Kent. “Things are going really good, the Marines are motivated. The news agencies will tell you this thing is going bad, but I’m here to tell you it’s not going south. There are a lot of positive things we’re doing here and the morale is extremely high amongst Marines, and I’ve talked to thousands. They can see the progress.”
Kent also hosted a town hall meeting to tell Marines about the latest changes being made in the Corps and receive feedback from the warfighters.
“The commandant and the leadership of our Corps are making great changes for us today that are going to benefit us in the future fight,” said the top enlisted Marine. “Not just the present, but we’re focusing on the future of our Corps.”
He answered questions concerning height and weight standards, revealing the Corps’ intentions of refining the current order and making it more concise. Details on the revised body composition program were few, but he warned that the changes were on the way.
He also addressed the Corps’ need to keep experienced Marines due to the new end-strength goals.
“Our goal is to grow over the next five years by 27,000 and we have already met this year’s end-strength goal,” said Kent. “We’re going to keep meeting it because we’ve got great Marines around our Corps and we’ve got recruiters that are recruiting the best without lowering the standards. We will continue to grow and we want great Marines to stick around the Corps.”
Kent encouraged Marines to stay and use their experience to make tomorrow’s Marine Corps a better place. Kent also motivated Marines by explaining what has kept him focused throughout his career citing; God, Marines and his family for helping him to reach success.
“The Marine Corps is in good shape for many years to come because of all these young warriors getting all this combat experience that we’ll be able to carry on to the next generations,” said Kent.