Photo Information

Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent, the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, addresses a theater full of deployed Leathernecks aboard Al Asad, Nov. 23. Kent and Gen. James T. Conway, the commandant of the Marine Corps, spoke to the Marines and answered questions on subjects ranging from the new combat fitness test to issues with base housing.

Photo by Cpl. Zachary Dyer

Corps’ leaders visit, talk with Al Asad Marines

20 Dec 2007 | Sgt. Zachary Dyer

As the holidays approach, the Corps’ top leaders decided to pay a visit to the Marines deployed to Iraq.

 Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent, sergeant major of the Marine Corps, took the time to visit with Marines at Al Asad during a town hall meeting, Nov. 23.

 “I think it’s pretty good that he comes out here,” said Cpl. Samuel Reading, an intelligence analyst with Marine Wing Support Group 27, and a Boise, Idaho, native. “I think it’s the second or third time that he’s come since I’ve been out here. And, he does answer some pretty good questions, like he’s pushing the one to two ratio. I guess it shows some compassion too, because he’s making a lot of good changes.”

 Both Gen. Conway and Kent told the assembled leathernecks how proud they were of the work the Marines had done. The commandant emphasized to his Marines that the people back home support them. After giving a short speech, the floor was opened up to the Marines in the audience to ask questions of their leaders.

 The commandant and sergeant major answered questions on a variety of subjects ranging from education benefits for family members to special leave accrual for Marines on deployment.

 One Marine asked Gen. Conway about the new combat fitness test and how it would be implemented alongside the standard physical fitness test. Gen. Conway told the assembled leathernecks that they most likely would not have to run the two fitness tests on the same day.

 “I don’t know about you, but after running a PFT, I don’t feel like running sprints,” explained Conway.

 When a Marine stood to ask the commandant about the new physical training uniform, Gen. Conway smiled.

 “I was waiting for someone to ask that question.”

 Conway then brought a Marine onstage to showcase the new gear. He took the chance to explain some of the recent changes that had been made to the uniform. For the Marines, it was their first time seeing the uniform that they will soon be wearing to do PT.

 “I liked it personally, except for the ‘Marines’ across the back,” said Reading. “I don’t think it went with the green very well. But I can see where it came from because its reflective.”

 After the meeting, Marines walked away with a new insight on what they can expect in the future.

 “I think there was a lot of good information,” said Reading, “Like the new fitness test, it was pretty nice to hear it from him instead of getting it in an (All Marine Message) or the newspaper, because not all of us have the time to read the newspaper. He seemed to have all the information.”

 “It was motivating,” added Lance Cpl. James Benson, an administration clerk with Marine Wing Support Group 27, and a Montgomery, Ala., native. “He’s looking out for the Marines. It was good for our higher-ups to come out here and see how we were doing. I think Marines learned a lot from it.”