CAMP COMMANDO, Kuwait -- "I gotta tell you how proud we are of you!" That was how Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General William L. Nyland, first greeted the I Marine Expeditionary Force Marines and sailors still serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was the first stop of a two-day visit to seven camps throughout Kuwait and Iraq.
"I am here thanking you on behalf of your Corps and your country," Gen. Nyland told those at Camp Commando, his first stop.
Nyland went on to praise the performance of the Marines through the recent war and following operations.
"In the Marine Corps, the bar has always been set high and you raised it another notch," he commended.
Although it was only 7:30 in the morning, Gen. Nyland remarked he could already feel the desert sun starting to heat things up. The more acclimatized Marines he spoke to, didn?t seem to notice as they listened intently to the second highest Marine in the Corps.
"You showed everyone what the "World's Premier Fighting Force" looks like," he told them. "God bless you."
Answering Marines' questions, he said the Marine Corps expected Unit Deployment Program schedules to be adjusted and "on track" within the year and praised the work of the Marine Reserves.
"Marines are Marines! They served and fought alongside active duty and their performance has been superb."
That day, Gen. Nyland went on to visit Marines, sailors, and soldiers at Kuwait's Camp Fox, Camp Coyote, and Al Jaber airfield. The next day, he brought his appreciation and praise to those serving in Iraq. He visited MAG-39 and 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines at Al Kut Air Base, I MEF forces at Camp Babylon, and Marines of CSSG-11 and 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment at Ad Diwaniyah.
After the two-day multi-camp blitz, Nyland went on to meet with senior military officials in Baghdad, Iraq. As important as they may have been, the meetings waited until Gen Nyland first got out the message, he wanted to give, to those still serving in the big sandbox.
"We showed them we can come from the sea! We can come from the shore! In this war, we traveled far longer than anybody expected. It showed the flexibility of what we can do," said Gen. Nyland proudly. "The Corps can adapt to whatever it is handed. It showed when you have a job that needs to get done, you give it to the United States Marine Corps!"