MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina --
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. visited Marines and Sailors of the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 3, 2015.
Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, GCEITF commanding officer, Sgt. Maj. Robin C. Fortner, GCEITF sergeant major, and GCEITF staff and company officers, briefed the commandant on past training events the Task Force has conducted thus far, and discussed the upcoming assessment that will take place at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
Shortly after the brief concluded, the commandant and GCEITF leadership traveled to GP 13 to observe artillery Marines conduct live-fire training during their final field exercise in preparation for their upcoming assessment.
“I came down today because what you all are doing is important to the Marine Corps,” said Dunford, as he addressed artillery Marines before they conducted a fire mission.
While the commandant was speaking to Marines of Gun Four, “fire mission” was heard over the radio. Marines quickly suited up in flak and Kevlar and fired three rounds downrange as the commandant watched closely.
“It was nice to have the boss come out here and see what we’re doing, and actually come out on the gun line while we’re shooting a mission,” said Sgt. Brandon L. Rodriguez, section chief with Battery A, GCEITF. “It was a pleasant visit. We got good information from him; he gave of us a scope of what’s going on in the Marine Corps, so it gave us more knowledge about what is going on. It felt good.”
The commandant stopped at all four guns, and in between fire missions, he talked to the Marines and emphasized that what they are doing at the GCEITF is bigger than themselves.
“You’re putting rounds downrange, you’re getting ready to go to Twentynine Palms, you’re getting ready to do what Marines do,” said Dunford. “I’d expect you to be motivated, but it’s pretty clear that you are, but again I want to thank you not only for what you do every day, but also for helping us make some pretty tough decisions and to make the Marine Corps better. You’re part of something that is going to make the Marine Corps better, and not everyone can say that every day, but you all can.”
Prior to departing Camp Lejeune, the commandant ensured he met with infantry Marines of Company A and Weapons Company during their dry-runs of squad attacks, and acknowledged their efforts in the task force.
“For those of you who volunteered and those of you who didn't, I appreciate what you’re doing,” Dunford said. “I just want you to know that what you’re doing is you’re making it happen. It is my responsibility to make it matter, and I’ll uphold my end of the bargain. You’re upholding your end of the bargain. You’re providing me with the data, the information, and the facts that are going to allow a decision to be made. My commitment to you in return for all the hard work, effort, and sweat over the next couple months is I’m going to make sure it matters to the institution.”
From October 2014 to July 2015, the GCEITF will conduct individual and collective level skills training in designated ground combat arms occupational specialties in order to facilitate the standards based assessment of the physical performance of Marines in a simulated operating environment performing specific ground combat arms tasks.
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