WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2010 — In a sun-drenched ceremony here today, Gen. James F. Amos received the battle flag of the U.S. Marine Corps from Gen. James T. Conway and became the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who presided at the ceremony, praised both Amos and Conway for their military careers and their dedication to America.
“As commandant, Jim made the health of the force a top priority, ensuring his Marines had the right tools for the job and new Marines were of the highest quality,” Gates said. He noted that on Conway’s watch, the Marine Corps grew to 202,000 members exceeding both DOD and Marine Corps standards. Gates gave the service five years to increase by 27,000 Marines and they accomplished the mission in less than half that time.
Conway also put aside the resources needed to care for ill or injured Marines, Gates said.
“He established the Wounded Warrior regiment to provide state-of-the-art care and outreach to wounded or sick Marines and their families, and to do so long after they had left the service,” the secretary said.
Gates called the Marine Corps “one of America’s most-cherished institutions and one of the world’s most feared and respected fighting forces.”
The Marine Corps, the secretary noted, has spent the last eight years essentially as an army force, without employing its famous amphibious skills.
“They need to preserve both their maritime soul and the hard-won counterinsurgency skills they’ve developed during this past decade,” Gates said. “Doing this will demand an intellectual capacity similar to that of Marine Corps forebears who developed novel amphibious warfare concepts in the years leading up to World War II.”
Gates said that Amos, the first Marine aviator to be commandant, is the man to tackle the challenge.
“He will, I’m confident, find the right balance to create what is needed to win the wars we’re in, while ensuring Marines remain the expeditionary force in readiness for the 21st century,” Gates said.
Conway thanked the secretary and praised his successor. The outgoing commandant also spoke of American servicemembers in harm’s way.
“There’s lots of work still to be done, and a close fight still to be won,” Conway said. It’s important, he added, that Americans “understand the important job” performed by the Marines and other U.S. servicemembers deployed in war zones.
“We want them to win and come home safe. So I ask you to continue to provide that support. And I think you’ll be pleased with the outcome,” Conway said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)