AR RAMADI, Iraq -- It is a rare opportunity to be able to address the commanders of the Marine Corps directly, but the Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, recently had that opportunity.
Lieutenant Gen. James N. Mattis, Commander of Marine Corps Forces Central Command and Commanding General of I Marine Expeditionary Force, and Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, Sergeant Major of I MEF and oncoming Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, visited Camp Hurricane Point in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on Feb. 10 to speak with the battalion.
More than 70 Marines and sailors from the battalion gathered to hear from the commanding general and sergeant major.
Sergeant Maj. Kent began the visit with a short address to the battalion about his pride in their accomplishments and his responsibilities to them as the new Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.
“He seems to really care about Marines,” said Cpl. Jeremy F. Collins, a 21-year-old vehicle commander for Weapons Co. “He made it known that he’ll be in Washington as our voice, the voice of the Marines.”
Following Sgt. Maj. Kent, Lt. Gen. Mattis spoke to the Marines and sailors about a variety of topics including the importance of Ramadi to the Al Anbar Province, the replacement of the High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle, and the ongoing surge in Iraq.
With many of the Marines and sailors expressing interest in the surge and destination of incoming units, Lt. Gen. Mattis took time to assure the battalion, that no matter where the units landed, it would be helpful to their operations.
“It will all work to the Marines’ benefit and to the detriment of the enemy,” said Lt. Gen. Mattis.
Following their speeches, and a short question period, Lt. Gen. Mattis sat down to a lunch with young Marines from the battalion.
Surrounded by young warriors from the rank of private first class to sergeant, Lt. Gen. Mattis took the opportunity to get some ideas from the Marines in the streets.
“He wanted to find out how we would run things here, what we would do differently,” said Collins, a native of Marion, Ala.
The Marines at the lunch took advantage of the opportunity, offering ideas on tactics in the area, pre-deployment training and distribution of forces.
Many of the Marines’ ideas were confirmed by Lt. Gen. Mattis as already in action, but a few were received and noted.
“He was open-minded to all of our suggestions,” said Collins. “He was really straightforward, whether he agreed or disagreed.”
Leaving shortly after the lunch, Lt. Gen. Mattis and Sgt. Maj. Kent moved on to visit other units under their command.
Although the visit was short, the Marines and sailors of the battalion appreciated the opportunity afforded to them by their commanders.
“It was a good experience to be able to tell them what you think and get a direct response,” said Collins. “You really get a feel for what they’re like.