AT-TAQADDUM, Iraq --
The assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Magnus, visited Marines and sailors here, May 18 and 19.
During his visit, the ACMC toured Camp Taqaddum, interacted with service members at the dining facility and spoke to Marines at a chapel about troop increases, future deployments and new barracks. Magnus discussed the future of Marines deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, noting the similarities and differences both face.
"There are only two main similarities where you are and where 24th (Marine Expeditionary Unit) and (2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division) are in Afghanistan," said Magnus. "First is that they are both tribal Muslim societies and secondly there are terrorists in both countries, and that’s where it ends."
Magnus explained the vast differences of the two countries. Marines in Afghanistan are in a geographically larger country with a tough mountainous terrain. The economies of both countries are very different, as the Iraqi people have more citizens with college degrees. Magnus also emphasized the drug problem in Afghanistan.
"About 90 percent of the worlds’ crop of poppies is grown in Afghanistan, which gives you heroin and opium," said Magnus.
He moved on to operations in Iraq, thanking Marines for their work in the Anbar province.
"You have crushed the spine of the snake," said Magnus. "And the head of the snake now is sitting up north in Mosul, and I believe … you and your Iraqi brothers are going to crush the head of the snake."
He also discussed the growth of the Marine Corps, which will continue to increase in size.
"We started this war with 174,000 Marines, today we have 189,000 Marines," said Magnus.
Magnus added the Marine Corps’ plan to grow to 202,000 active duty Marines by July 2009.
To accommodate this growth, the Corps will build new barracks and living accommodations for Marines.
Magnus left Marines with words from posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Cpl. Jason Dunham’s mother, Debra Dunham to end his speech.
She thanks Marines for their service, asks that they keep doing what they are doing, meanwhile taking care of each other.