CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan --
The Marine Corps’ new commandant came to Okinawa, Japan, March 24-26 to talk with Marines across the island.
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the commandant of the Marine Corps, wanted to make sure the Marines here know what his expectations are for the present and future of the Corps.
“My priorities are to make sure we have the warfighting capabilities we need, to address the maturity of our leaders and to make sure they have the training, education and the experience that they need to be successful on the battlefield,” said Dunford.
Okinawa is home to the III Marine Expeditionary Force and is a major part of the U.S. military forces’ rebalance to the Pacific where about 20,000 Marines are already stationed.
"III MEF is the rebalance to the Pacific,” said Dunford. “When people ask me about the rebalance, I say we’re already there.”
The commandant spoke with as many III MEF Marines as possible while on Okinawa to get feedback on policies and plans. He visited four Marine Corps bases on Okinawa and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, holding briefs at each.
“I learned just how much he really cares about the Marines and our morale,” said Lance Cpl. Zackary T. Stover, a combat engineer with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “He said he is taking what the Marines want into account. I feel like he really cares about what we want because he listened to what we had to say about things like the tattoo policy even though he’s probably heard it from most other Marines.”
A lot of Marines think Dunford will be a great commandant, according to Stover from Punta Gorda, Florida. The commandant visited Okinawa for three days, and in that time Marines learned that he puts the Marines first.
“The most important thing I want the Marines to get from this visit is for them to know how much we appreciate what they’re doing out here in III MEF,” said Dunford. “I also want them to know how relevant they are to our nation’s security and how proud I am of the professionalism and there state of readiness.”