News: Assistant commandant visits Okinawa
Story by Cpl. Mark Stroud
CAMP HANSEN, Japan - Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, visited III Marine Expeditionary Force units and Marine Corps Installations Pacific March 17-20 during a tour of installations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Paxton talked with Marines and observed units, training sites and facilities throughout Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, MCIPAC, during his visit.
“The purpose of this visit is to see what is going on out here operationally, view the state of our facilities, what the motivation and morale of our people is, and what we can do to better assist and develop from back in Washington D.C.,” said Paxton. “It is an honor and privilege to represent our commandant, Gen. James F. Amos, and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, both of whom pass their best wishes to our Marines, sailors and civilians on Okinawa.”
Paxton assumed duties as the assistant commandant Dec. 15, 2012. His visit signaled the Marine Corps’ continued commitment to maintaining a strong presence in the region.
“The Asia-Pacific region, as everyone knows or should know, is incredibly important to the Marine Corps and the United States,” said Paxton. “We have an immediate purpose and a personal purpose as a nation here in the Pacific, and we also have bilateral and multilateral interests with our allies, partners and friends.”
The general affirmed the Marine Corps’ dedication to continue building upon these relationships in the Asia-Pacific.
“There are five countries with whom we have mutual defense treaties (in the region), so we are always interested in showing them that … even though we may be 8,000 miles away, we understand their challenges and concerns and we are partners with them,” said Paxton. “We are partners they can rely on, and we are interested in training with them and developing our capabilities and capacity.”
Paxton also emphasized the Marine Corps’ commitment to III MEF and return to its traditional roots as an amphibious expeditionary force.
“Everyone on Okinawa is an integral part of the Marine Corps,” said Paxton. “As we reset from Afghanistan and rebalance to the Pacific, we are going to do everything within our power to make sure the best people, the best gear and the best training is resident here or available to Marines on Okinawa.”
The general visited with Marines and sailors across the island during his time on Okinawa.
“For 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, General Paxton saw our barracks and then came down to visit us at the kennels to see the military working dog platoon,” said 1st Lt. Jocelyn M. Mills, a military police officer with 3rd LE Bn., III MEF Headquarters Group, III MEF. “You hear about what’s going on during briefs, but it’s important to see the boots on the ground. It is great to see leadership actively engaged, asking questions, and taking a genuine interest, which is what I believe the assistant commandant provided.”
Many of the enlisted Marines were afforded the chance to meet the assistant commandant during his visit.
“I will definitely remember the visit for a long time,” said Cpl. Steven Z. Lilley, a military working dog handler with 3rd LE Bn. “To see high-ranking Marines come out shows how much they care about what we do and means a lot to us.”
Interacting with the Marines and sailors of III MEF and MCIPAC was the highlight of the trip for Paxton.
“The best part about any visit is to be with the Marines, sailors and families,” said Paxton. “I never cease to be amazed at the talent, the skill-sets and the motivation of everyone who is out here on Okinawa. From Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., commanding general of III MEF, down to the brand new private first class right out of recruit training … it is a great team here, and I’m honored to come out and get a chance to meet so many of them and have them talk about or demonstrate what they do in the Pacific.”
The assistant commandant concluded the third day of his visit with a message for the Marines of III MEF and MCIPAC.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be out here with all the Marines and families on Okinawa, so thank you very much,” said Paxton. “As Lt. Gen. Glueck and all the leaders out here tell you, be good ambassadors, represent the United States and the Marine Corps well and properly here on Okinawa, and when you are off island, train hard, be safe and take care of each other. Semper fidelis.”