by Tyler Will, Naval War College Public Affairs
Newport, R.I. – Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, delivered a keynote speech at the Naval War College’s 60th Current Strategy Forum on June 17.
A two-day discussion about military policy, the forum, themed, “Seizing Strategic Opportunities: Challenging the Paradigm,” presented opinions on military policy from nationally recognized academics, military personnel, and other government officials.
Describing the direction the Corps is taking, Conway began his speech by reflecting on Marine activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Middle East as a whole. In the middle of 2006, Sunni sheiks came to the Marines requesting help to fight Al Qaeda, resulting in Marines and Sunnis engaging Al Qaeda together.
“The value of that experience has been that other nations in the region have seen that this has taken place,” Conway said.
Describing challenges in the region, the Commandant said Marines are combating a multi-million dollar drug trade in southern Afghanistan.
He commended Pakistan for recent efforts combating the Taliban.
“We wish them continued success, because it is a tremendous operation that absolutely had to happen,” Conway said.
The Corps is also researching ways to operate with lighter equipment.
“As an expeditionary force, we say that we are fast, austere and lethal,” Conway said. “In order to be fast, you need to be light.”
Commenting on personnel, the Commandant said the Corps is continually working to make sure deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan remain at seven months. He concluded his speech with a statement about quality Marines rising to substantial challenges.
“We are optimistic in the Corps. Where there are challenges, there are opportunities,” he said.