Commando's general speaks

3 May 2003 | Cpl. Kyle J. Walker

Just days before Marines invaded Iraq, Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, I Marine Expeditionary Force, commanding general, briefed troops at Camp Commando's "Coliseum."

Now, one day after President George Bush declared major combat complete, Maj. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, deputy commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Brigade, commented on the major achievements of this deployment.

"This campaign is certainly a historic achievement for the Marine Corps," said Stalder. "As we all know, the Marine Corps is essentially a maritime, war fighting organization, and with our navy partners we come from the sea and fight on the land "we usually don't get too far from the ocean."

Operation Iraqi Freedom projected Marines hundreds of miles from the sea into Iraq, farther than any movement in Marine Corps history.  It did it as fast or faster than it had ever been done before, Stalder said.

"This is a direct reflection of the great work the Marine Expeditionary Force has done and certainly you all have done," he said. "What a great victory you did for the Iraqi people."

Stalder said it was the hard work and dedication that each person displayed that contributed to its success.

"This time, when we go home, we?ll have a sense of accomplishment," said 1stSgt. Dennis Jones, MEF Engineering Group.

The Deputy Commanding General's talk went on to discuss the upcoming transition, commenting that as the Marine Corps transitions out of a combat phase and into reconstruction, the Iraqi people is gaining back more of their infrastructure and government functioning each day.

"Along with that, we will start to do some retrograding and figuring out how we'll all get home.  There is still a tremendous amount of things that need to be done though," Stalder said.

After forces have been drawn down, modulated movements will move back to the States.

"It was finally good to hear the war efforts are over and we'll be home soon," said Cpl. James R. Sherwood, 1st Marine Division, administrative clerk. "It's a comfort to hear it from a general and not just from a staff sergeant or captain."

"Marines: focus on the future and lets get everyone home on time and in a safe manner," Stalder concluded.