by Lance Cpl. Ryan L. Tomlinson<br /> I Marine Expeditionary Force PAO<br /> <br /> AL TAQADDUM, Iraq – Two of the Marine Corps top leaders visited Camp Taqaddum. <br /> <br /> Lt. Gen. James M. Mattis, Commanding General, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, Sergeant Major of I MEF, discussed issues such as the importance of leadership in the Marine Corps and the progress of the Iraqi Army.<br /> <br /> Mattis explained he was proud of the Marines and sailors for their performance in Iraq and they are his top priority.<br /> <br /> After his speech, he answered questions ranging from the false rumors about deployment extensions to questions about the Military Transition Teams. <br /> <br /> "It was an honor to be in the presence of one of the Marine Corps top leaders," said Cpl. Erin R. Broadstreet, 25, entry checkpoint supervisor for Headquarters and Service Company and a native of Flint, Mich. "It let me know how we are all playing a role for a bigger cause."<br /> <br /> Kent and Sgt Maj. Frank E. Pulley, Sergeant Major, 1st Marine Division visited staff non-commissioned officers', gunnery sergeant and above, and advised them to re-evaluate themselves as leaders mentoring the junior warriors for the future of the Marine Corps.<br /> <br /> Kent touched on proposals for new physical training clothing and longer time at home after each deployment.<br /> <br /> "Everything in the Marine Corps starts with leadership," said Kent. "There are a lot of bad (regions) we've been in, but no matter what the situation is, the staff non-commissioned officer will be there to guide the Marines."<br /> <br /> Kent and Pulley concluded their meeting thanking the leaders of 1st MLG asking that them to continue their job of mentoring Marines with their experience. <br /> <br /> "It was great to see our leadership come out and visit us," said Gunnery Sgt. Fletcher P. Veitch, 34, 4th Civil Affairs Group representative for 1st MLG and a native of Leonardtown, Md. "(The meeting) was very insightful, (and now we) know the new policies for the future of the Marine Corps." <br /> <br /> According to some Marines, an impromptu luncheon left a lasting effect on them<br /> <br /> "It was a great surprise to eat lunch with a leader like General Mattis. We were able to share our input and talk with him on a one to one basis," said Sgt. Thomas W. Petronio, 26, platoon sergeant with Security Platoon, Headquarters and Support Company, 1st MLG and a Middlefield, Ohio, native. "It was one of the best experiences I have had so far since I've been in the Marine Corps."<br /> <br /> Mattis concluded wishing the Marines and sailors Happy Holidays.