AL TAQADDUM, Iraq --
The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway, and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, visited Al Anbar Province and met with service members here Monday.
Conway said the feedback he receives on such visits gives him sufficient ammunition for Capitol Hill, where he speaks on behalf of the Corps and its Marines.
“These (town-hall meetings) have been pretty helpful,” Conway said to more than 300 service members. “We’ve been able to turn some policies and get things fixed.”
From improving barracks, to new running suits, the Corps’ top leaders spoke on a variety of issues.
“Things are better in Iraq, at this point, than anybody could have believed,” said Conway, addressing the troops, “and I suspect that includes you as well.”
Conway also spoke of improvements on the domestic front, citing a substantial increase in funds and resources for Marine families.
“Marine Corps money” set aside for families went from $5 million to $30 million, and the Secretary of Defense allocated $100 million in additional funds, he said.
Conway handed the microphone to Kent, who shared some encouraging words of bipartisan support, particularly relevant in light of the upcoming elections.
“Don’t get wrapped up in the politics,” said Kent. “It doesn’t matter what party (the politicians belong to), they love their Marines.”
Kent also addressed the rumor that the Marine Corps has lowered its standards to boost recruiting and retention numbers.
“A recruiter will be the first to tell you that they don’t want us to lower standards,” Kent said. “We don’t need to lower standards to get people in, they sell (the Marine Corps) by the title.”
The gentlemen concluded their visit by fielding questions from the audience, awarding command coins to individual Marines, and reminding everyone of their role.
“You don’t work for me, I serve you as your 16th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, and the Commandant will tell you the same thing,” Kent said. “(You make it) very easy for us because you all are doing great things to serve our Corps.”