CAMP IWO JIMA, Kuwait -- The new Commanding General of 1st Force Service Support Group, in command for less than a month, wasted no time in visiting with his Marines and sailors in Kuwait and Iraq.
The local area commanders took Brigadier General Richard S. Kramlich, along with the senior enlisted Marine and Sailor of 1st FSSG, Sergeant Major Jerry Cole and Command Master Chief Petty Officer Robert Fitzgerald, on a three-day whirlwind tour throughout the combat zone.
The visit started off with the General and his party visiting the Marines and Sailors of 1st FSSG Forward located at Camp Coyote, Kuwait. He then departed for Iraq to visit with Combat Service Support Group 11, in support of 1st Marine Division, based at Tallil Airfield and the cities of Ad Diwaniyah, Al Hillah and Al Kut.
The new Commanding General wanted to introduce himself to as many of the deployed troops as possible, letting them know what a great job they did during Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"I wanted to let them know how proud I was of them and what they accomplished, and the spectacular success of the MEF over here. Certainly, as part of that Marine Air Ground Task Force that the MEF is, the FSSG performed magnificently," said the former Commanding General of Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Ga.
"They pushed the envelope of logistics. They traversed and supported a division that was moving at a rapid pace over terrible terrain, over tremendous distances (more than 600 miles), and that's a mission that is not traditionally within the FSSG's doctrine. But, this FSSG found a way to do what the division asked of them, and provided that support. It was a true MAGTF success."
"The Division did some great things over here (Iraq) that people will be talking about for a long time, but they couldn't have done it without you guys," Cole said to the Marines of CSSG-11. "How far can a tank go on one tank of gas? Not very far. It probably wouldn't even have gotten out of Kuwait."
The Commanding General also talked about the success of the new Forward Resuscitative Surgery System, a small, lightweight, easily transportable system that brings the operating room closer to the front lines of combat than it has been before. This was the first time the system was deployed and although there is no combat doctrine associated with it to date, the Marines and sailors performed superbly, Kramlich said. Navy surgeons were able to treat more than 500 patients, from both coalition forces and the Iraqi military.
"He was pleased to be able to visit with all his Marines and Sailors out here," said Colonel Charles Hudson, 1st FSSG Forward Commander. "He was excited to talk to them and answer their questions. I think the best thing about his visit was that everyone was straightforward with what they had to say. The Marines were straightforward with their questions and he was the same with his answers."
Reorganization of the Group was another important topic of discussion during the visit. Kramlich told the Marines and sailors to expect to return to the same unit composition back at Camp Pendleton as during the war.
First FSSG was reorganized into Combat Service Support Elements that provided "all around" combat service support to the 1st Marine Division, 3d Marine Air Wing, and I MEF Headquarters Group during Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Combat Service Support Groups attached Combat Service Support Companies to the subordinate units such as 1st Marine Division's Regimental Combat Teams. By keeping each CSSG together in garrison, Kramlich said, the 1st FSSG will be better prepared to transition into combat.
"They (the CSSG's) served a great purpose during the war," he said. "But the transition to combat would have been much more smooth if we had established habitual relationships with the units that we had to support and been able to train with them and practice communication. We need to keep the same relationships in garrison that we had with the units during the war."
"I think since the CG took so many days out of his schedule just emphasizes the fact that he has not forgotten about us," Hudson said. "It shows that he cares about his Marines and knows that the MEF mission is still very important out here in Kuwait and Iraq."