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Neller to Marines: Seize the Initiative

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The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert B. Neller, visited Marines to discuss his recently published message to the force, “Seize the Initiative.”

The message summarizes the commandant’s thoughts on what Marines accomplished in 2016 and gives his guidance on his expectations for 2017 and beyond. Specifically, it provides six resolutions for Marines to follow. According to the commandant Marines need to; improve readiness, modernize the force, become smarter, take better care of themselves, protect what they have earned and have more fun.

During his visit, Neller discussed his intentions to modernize the force, its tactics and equipment.

“Most of our current vehicles, equipment and gear are worn. We are operating artillery and tanks that are older than most of you here today,” he said. “We have to modernize. It is not going to happen overnight, but we will come up with ways to do it.”

Modernizing the force is necessary, he explained, to more effectively address future threats. He explained how he believes future wars will be fought and his intentions to modernize the Marine Corps not only as a lethal fighting force on the battlefield, but also in cyberspace.

“We have created a system of fighting that revolves around the access and use of a network. We have to figure out how to be more resilient and how to protect this network, and be able to attack the enemy’s network,” stated Neller. “There is going to be an ever increasing demand for people who can do this. I think, eventually, there will be a specific MOS for people who can do that type of work.”

His greatest point of emphasis was readiness and the role individual Marines play in improving our overall readiness.

“If I call you tonight at midnight and said I need you to pack all your gear and be ready to deploy tomorrow morning, would you be ready or not?” he asked the Marines. “I challenge you all to be ready, right now.”

He also explained that in order for Marines to be ready, they need to become smarter individuals, to take better care of their bodies, and to protect what they have earned.

“We need to drink less, read more, and PT smarter,” he said. “We need to police our ranks better and hold ourselves and our fellow Marines accountable. We must do a better job of looking out for each other.”

He quoted conversations with Marines who received non-judicial punishments. Alcohol emerged as a common denominator in many disciplinary incidents.

“As I was talking to them, they told me it was their fault,” he said. “When I asked them what happened, most of their stories begin with ‘well, we were drinking tequila’.”

Neller also talked to the Marines about his intentions and plans for Marine Forces Reserve.

“In my mind there is only one Marine Corps,” he said. “If you study the history of our Corps, every time we went to war, it was as the Marine Corps.”

He explained the only reason the Reserve Marine Forces do not deploy as often as he wants them to, is due to the current lack of funds. However, he proceeded to address his plans of total force expansion and the Department of Defense’s intent to increase the number of Marines.

Prior to questions, he closed with a final encouraging message for all Marines to hear.

“You are United States Marines,” he said. “You have done something that less than one percent of the American population had the courage to attempt. Be proud of that.”

Story by Sgt. Ian Ferro

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