Immediate and Persistent Combat Power
Interview With Gen. James L. Jones, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Senior Editor Gordon I. Peterson interviewed General Jones for this
issue of Sea Power.
Sea Power: General, your time as commandant of the Marine Corps [CMC]
is fast drawing to a close. What thoughts cross your mind as you reflect
on your tour?
JONES: The last three and one-half years have certainly been the most
fulfilling experience in my professional life, and I am very proud of
all of the many things that the Navy and Marine Corps team has been able
to do. I also am very proud of what the Marine Corps has achieved. I said
at the outset that I took a Marine Corps from our 31st commandant [retired
Gen. Charles C. Krulak] that was in very good shape. My goal was to make
it better. The guidance I gave to commanders emphasized that the responsibility
of command is to leave the Corps at least slightly better than you found
it so that your successor can go on to make it even better.
I did not have a grandiose vision, but I think it was a good one. I tried
to capture my thoughts in my original Commandant's Guidance that was published
the day after the change of command in July 1999.
What were the key areas of emphasis in your Guidance?
JONES: I wanted to highlight some of our values--the fact that readiness
is important but it is not a function of just the individual Marine and
his rifle anymore; it is the Marine, his rifle, and his family. The All
Volunteer Force is a different animal than a conscripted force. There
were things that we critically needed to do on our bases and stations
to improve the quality of life and service of our Marines by providing
modern barracks, family housing, and other facilities.
I also wanted to signal that there were some areas where we needed to
rededicate ourselves to improving our warfighting capabilities, our contributions
to homeland defense, and our relationship with the Navy.
The enduring partnership between the Navy and Marine Corps is one of
the most important factors in our ability to achieve operational excellence
and victory on the battlefield--our reason for being. My relationship
with Jay Johnson [former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jay L. Johnson]
and Vern Clark [the current chief of naval operations, Adm. Vern Clark]
was not only a strong personal relationship but it also allowed us to
move our two forces into a position where we can honestly say that the
21st century's naval force will be something that will make the nation
The Navy-Marine Corps team was heavily committed to combat operations
in Afghanistan during phase one of the war on terrorism. What impressed
you most about the Marine Corps' warfighting performance?
JONES: The role of the Navy and Marine Corps during Operation Enduring
Freedom was a demonstration of what is to come in the future. It is very
exciting, because much of what we achieved was accomplished with legacy
systems and platforms--especially older aircraft and helicopters. Operation
Enduring Freedom was the most tangible demonstration to date of what we
are talking about when we say farewell to the "amphibious" designation
of Marine Corps capabilities in the 21st century and describe ourselves
as a true expeditionary force.
Everything that the Navy and Marine Corps are doing is merging toward
that concept--expeditionary forces projected over a great distance from
a sea base. For the Navy and Marine Corps the definition of expeditionary
means a couple of things. One, it means forces that are immediately usable
upon arrival. Two, it also means having a degree of sustainability upon
arrival. Immediate, persistent combat power and long-term supportability
are characteristics of the Navy-Marine Corps team's flexibility that are
almost unique among the armed forces of the world.
Sovereignty issues are going to dominate the 21st century in ways that
we have never seen. It is going to be very difficult to negotiate access
ashore or for airspace overland. Our maritime nation's history allows
us to do 21st-century sea-basing missions in new and exciting ways. Forces
that come from the sea will be exponentially more valuable than they have
been at perhaps any time in our history.
What key lessons did the Marine Corps learn--or relearn--during the past
year's combat operations, and were you surprised by any developments?
JONES: Transformation for us is an important word, because it has four
distinct pillars to it--operational concepts, technological innovation,
institutional reforms, and reform of our acquisition and business models.
The first two components of transformation really do apply to our performance
in Afghanistan--the transformation of operational concepts and our technology.
When General Mattis [Brig. Gen. James N. Mattis] went into Afghanistan
with a MEB [Marine expeditionary brigade] headquarters as a Fifth Fleet
task force commander, he had roughly 60 people with him. Twenty years
ago a MEB headquarters may have had 260 people assigned. Much of the intelligence
that he received--in real time--was generated at Quantico [Va.]. Much
of the logistical support he needed was generated with reach-back capability
to Navy ships operating in the Arabian Sea.
Because of our advances in technology and the information that he was
able to obtain about his local combat environment, he did not need to
take many of the things that another commander would have taken with him
as recently as 10 years ago. He was able to lighten his force and still
be very effective, survivable, and poised to accomplish any mission.
This shaping characteristic is something that we would not have done
10 or 15 years ago, but this capability today was based on an absolute
certainty that he would have an accurate battlefield awareness at all
times. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles and the immediate integration
of capabilities between Special Operations Forces [SOF] and Navy-Marine
Corps forces associated with his brigade were transformational in terms
of his efficiency and effectiveness.
Afghanistan proved to be a validation of concepts that are to come with
the future increased use of technology and the replacement of aging systems
like our legacy helicopters with tiltrotor aircraft. We will obviate the
need for interim staging bases, forward arming and refueling sites, and
facilities of that nature. We will truly be able to accomplish missions
like [those in] Afghanistan without breaking a sweat. It is harder to
do now owing to the technological limits of today's aircraft, but it was
exciting to see it all unfold despite these limitations.
Did anything surprise you?
JONES: Whatever surprises I had were, for the most part, pleasant ones!
Although our training is conducted in parallel, it was pleasant to see
how well our Marines and joint SOF units worked together. I also was pleasantly
surprised to see how well our communications worked and to see the effectiveness
of close-air support--with many precision munitions dropped from [Air
Force] B-52s. Many things were revalidated. There is always a tendency
to lighten the logistical footprint of the Marine Expeditionary Unit [MEU],
for example, but during mass-casualty evacuations, POW [prisoner of war]
detention and medical treatment, battle-damaged aircraft retrieval, and
combat search and rescue we saw the value of the MEU's organic combat
and logistical capabilities. Our experience demonstrated that we are moving
in the right direction in terms of our transformation.
Some observers have said that the Marine Corps held the SOF community
at arm's length for many years. Is that relationship changing?
JONES: I am very excited about our work to establish closer working relationships
with the joint U.S. Special Operations Command [SOCOM]. It is an idea
whose time has come. We are fortunate to have a commander in chief [CINC]
at JSOC, General Charlie Holland [Air Force Gen. Charles R. Holland],
who feels the same way. Several months ago we initialed the first memorandum
of understanding between the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command
to start building the bridges that will bring our forces closer together.
Special Operations Forces--and forces like them--are going to be at a
premium during the global war on terrorism. We already have a great deal
of capability residing in our MEU (SOC) [MEU (Special Operations Capable)],
so this is a natural marriage. The Navy-Marine Corps team has floating
sea bases and platforms, and we are moving into aggressive technologies
like the tiltrotor aircraft. The fact that Special Operations Forces also
are champions of that technology is not accidental. We both see the future
the same way, and I am grateful to General Holland for entering into this
Our bridge-building will not be done overnight. I have assigned one of
our new brigadier general-selects, Denny Hejlik [Brig. Gen. Dennis J.
Hejlik] to SOCOM as its chief of staff--a first. We will do this gradually,
and we will do it the right way. We will have a complementary capability.
Do you see a time when Marine SOF units or personnel will be integrated
into the JSOC structure in the same manner we see with the Navy's SEAL
[Sea, Air, Land] SOF community?
JONES: I would not rule anything off or on the table right now. Personally
I would think that would be a possible end state--possibly a contribution
in the area of force recon [reconnaissance]. [Ed. Note: Subsequent to
this interview, the Marine Corps and SOCOM agreed to a Marine Corps contribution
in fiscal year 2004 as a "proof of concept" of this emerging
relationship. The force, of about 75 Marines, will augment Navy Special
Warfare units assigned to SOCOM.] I know we can add exponential capabilities
to the JSOC organization--which is going to be tasked a great deal during
the years ahead. A great deal of good will flow from what we are doing
in this area.
British Royal Marines also were present during combat operations in Afghanistan;
would you care to comment on your service's special relationship with
JONES: That's a really good question. We have a strong affinity for the
Royal Marines of Great Britain, and they have performed superbly in Afghanistan.
We have had a special relationship for many years with our British friends.
We continue to assign junior officers to the Royal Marines. We also have
exchanged pilots in Marine aviation--we adapted our AV-8B Harrier II [short
takeoff/vertical landing jet aircraft] from the original British design.
The STOVL [short takeoff/vertical landing] Joint Strike Fighter [JSF],
along with tiltrotor technology, also makes great sense for forces that
want to go somewhere fast and do something immediately upon arrival.
I would like to expand on the question. We are building a worldwide community
of naval infantry forces. This past summer I hosted the first-ever worldwide
conference of naval infantry--32 countries sent representatives to be
with us for a week. We took them to Camp Lejeune [N.C.] to demonstrate
a combat-capabilities exercise, to Parris Island [Marine Corps Recruit
Depot, Parris Island, S.C.] to show how we make Marines, and here to Washington,
D.C., for the final days of the conference. It was extraordinary to see
the commonality between naval infantries from around the world--whether
they are large or small. We did not make any distinction--the only criterion
was that the country have a naval infantry. It could be a riverine force
or oceangoing force; it did not matter.
As the nation's medium-weight expeditionary sea-based force, how does
the Marine Corps bridge the gap between SOF operational capabilities and
the Army's larger ground forces?
JONES: One of the healthier debates going on inside the Pentagon today
is an examination by the service chiefs and the services over how much
speed the nation's armed forces need when responding to a developing crisis.
While we talk a great deal about transformation, there are some things
that we must guard against. One of the caution flags that I would throw
out is that the nation does not need the entire Army, Navy, Air Force,
and Marine Corps to be first responders to a crisis or contingency! My
good friend the vice chairman [Gen. Peter Pace, USMC, vice chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff] said more than a year ago what I have repeated
many times because he is absolutely right: Speed is expensive!
It is clear that we need some speed, but we will never have the strategic
lift--either air or sea--to lift the entire Army, Air Force, Navy, and
Marine Corps simultaneously. There is not a requirement for everyone to
be at the point of crisis at the same time. It is not affordable or achievable.
What we can do is define how we shape our forces so that we have a certain
degree of sufficiency across the spectrum of expeditionary forces and
truly deployable forces. That is a subtle distinction, but it does purport
to recognize that we can identify those forces that are the first responders--the
most agile and the most usable crisis-response forces that can react quickly
and do something of military significance to resolve the crisis at hand
or prepare the way for follow-on forces.
If a conflict deepens or widens into low- or high-intensity combat, those
follow-on forces need to be robust. There is no walking away from that.
It is good to continue to work on developing increased agility--absolutely--but
we also must be careful not to sacrifice true combat power in favor of
speed. Getting there too light to fight and prevail is a formula for disaster.
This perspective also implies that there are varying degrees of readiness
that also are possible to embrace. If you agree with my initial thesis,
there is not a requirement for all units of the armed forces of the United
States to be at C1 [the highest level of operational readiness in the
military's tiered structure of readiness reporting] all the time. There
are huge budget implications. It is not popular to talk about tiered readiness,
because nobody wants to be in the tier that is not fully ready.
The truth of the matter is that we do that. I challenge anyone to tell
me that we don't--even in the Marine Corps. The Joint Chiefs of Staff
are trying to come to grips with how much speed the nation needs for its
military and what those forces ought to look like. There is enough work
there for everybody!
Sea Power 21, the new Navy vision introduced by the chief of naval operations
[CNO] earlier this year, has profound implications for the Marine Corps.
I would like to pose the same question we asked Admiral Clark last month--is
the Marine Corps joined at the hip with the Navy regarding the future
of naval operations during the 21st century?
JONES: The short answer is yes, but I can't let your question pass with
a one-word answer. Not only is the Marine Corps joined at the hip with
the Navy in this concept, we are joined at the hip in ways that we have
never seen before during my career. It is not just at the CNO-CMC level;
it also is at the operational level and headquarters level. Everything
that the Navy and the Marine Corps are doing is being done in concert
with one another.
Tactical-aviation [TACAIR] integration is perhaps one of the best examples
of that type of cooperation. When you try to build bridges between two
cultures you often find a great deal of resistance. I understand that.
The CNO and I spend a lot of our time building consensus.
TACAIR integration was the first test of sincerity. Cooperation often
lasts until you reach the first contentious issue in a win-lose relationship--you
either get your way or you walk away from it. If you stick with it and
build something better to create a win-win relationship--which is what
we have done with TACAIR--then you advance the transformation of our naval
forces. It is truly powerful. In addition to making things better for
the Marine side of naval aviation, it also brings the Navy into its first
true commitment to support the land battle from a sea-based platform since
World War II or Korea. The end of the blue-water threat does not mean
that the Navy is less important. In my book, it means the Navy can focus
on prosecuting the nation's interest from a sea base for the foreseeable
future. Land-sovereignty issues are going to make this naval capability
exponentially more valuable.
Our efforts to write a naval operational concept takes the cornerstones
of Navy and Marine Corps doctrinal documents and fuses them together so
that people can understand how the nation's naval forces can be employed
and how we intend to move forward over the next 10 to 15 years. I want
to underscore that the Marine Corps is joined at the hip with the Navy--and
in ways that we could only dream about just a few years ago.
Could you elaborate on the rationale for the integration of naval aviation
and where it stands today?
JONES: It is not a new concept. We started some years ago when we agreed
to put four squadrons of Marine F/A-18s [Hornet strike-fighters] on Navy
aircraft carriers. The paradigm is not new, but we have agreed to expand
on that. This expansion entails some real cultural changes that will commit
the Navy and the Marine Corps to do things in a naval context. We have
agreed to expand the presence of Marine squadrons to 10 carrier battle
groups--the 10 Nimitz-class big-deck carriers. The Navy also has agreed
to dedicate three of its squadrons to our unit-deployment program.
Will the future capabilities of the Joint Strike Fighter [JSF] play a
role in this?
JONES: Yes. By looking at the Joint Strike Fighter in toto, from a naval
concept, the STOVL [short takeoff/vertical landing] and conventional variants
will receive a fair, impartial, and objective evaluation. We have always
had a division of labor, if you will, with the Marines pushing STOVL capabilities
and the Navy wanting to preserve CTOL [conventional takeoff and landing]
capabilities. We all are excited by the promise of the Joint Strike Fighter
and what it is going to do, but I honestly believe that the mix of those
airplanes will be dependent upon a true examination of the variants' capabilities.
We will see where this examination will come out. At the very minimum
there will be a healthy mix of both aircraft in the Navy and Marine Corps.
If both aircraft pan out the way we think they will--and if the CNO's
visions of a littoral combat ship and revamped Expeditionary Strike Groups
come to pass--then I think you will see more naval capability with diverse
power-projection capabilities--from tiltrotors, to STOVL Joint Strike
Fighters, to other exciting technologies--coming into the naval arsenal
in the near future.
TACAIR integration may allow us to reduce the overall number of Joint
Strike Fighters that we were scheduled to buy over the program's life
cycle, because we had planned to buy as separate services. Now, by marrying
the complementary capabilities of both models and changing a bit of our
culture to accommodate that capability, we might be able to reduce the
total buy but do more with what we have. Those studies will need to determine
what it is as we go down the road, but that's the concept.
Admiral Clark told us that he is totally committed to the STOVL variant
of the JSF and, depending upon the results of the comparative evaluation,
it may not be just Marine Corps pilots who will fly it.
JONES: Absolutely. I have never seen a lack of commitment to the STOVL
JSF by the CNO. I can assure you that we have never had a conversation
in which we disagreed on anything relating to TACAIR.
The Marine Corps pioneered innovative doctrines and warfighting capabilities
many decades before the term "transformation" became fashionable
in the Department of Defense. What are the most promising transformational
capabilities on the Marine Corps' horizon?
JONES: I would have to start with that sector in the Marine Corps most
in need of modernization--aviation. The STOVL Joint Strike Fighter is
at the top of our list, co-equal with tiltrotor technology. You will notice
that I am not necessarily referring to the V-22. I believe that the promise
of technology is what is transformational. If the "box" [i.e.,
airframe] that we design for that technology is a V-22, that's fine. I'm
optimistic that the V-22 will prove itself. But I see tiltrotor technology
as transformation because it is a step beyond the limits of the physics
applied to rotary-wing aircraft. We are not going to be able to get much
more speed out of helicopters.
If the V-22 proves itself, then that is the way to step into tiltrotor
designs. I will be happy, because I think it will lead the way to smaller
tiltrotor aircraft for command-and-control and gunship missions, with
the larger models suitable for intratheater lift requirements now performed
by the C-130 [Hercules transport aircraft]. Imagine landing a C-130-type
aircraft vertically on the fantail of an LPD [amphibious transport dock],
for example. I think that is the future. Tiltrotor technology also has
numerous commercial applications. If you think that V/STOL [vertical/short
takeoff and landing] fighter aircraft are transformational, then you also
must apply that logic to tiltrotor aircraft.
On the sea-basing side of transformation, the AAAV [advanced amphibious
assault vehicle] remains a very, very important program. It is a critical
vehicle for us--not only in ship-to-shore operations, but also in the
prosecution of a land campaign--ship-to-objective operations. The AAAV's
gun system, maneuverability, speed, and reliability will make it a much
different animal on the ground. Its speed across the beach will really
make a difference.
To those who think that this is a step backward--that the Marine Corps
is still planning for an amphibious assault comparable to Iwo Jima during
World War II--that is not the case. When Marines come from a sea base,
particularly in a hostile environment, our methodology is not to land
in the face of the enemy, but land where they are not, so that we can
build up our forces, move across the shore as quickly as possible, and
come at our enemy in an asymmetric manner.
We want to present the enemy with so many different threats to his well-being
that he does not know how to react to any of them. When you project power
from a sea base with a capability to come across the beach with high-speed
LCACs [landing craft, air cushion], the AAAV is complementary. You do
not want to limit the buildup of forces ashore to one mode only. Things
will happen in combat that can preclude a planned option. The AAAV is
not a means of delivery that stops at the beach. It is a means to cross
the beach and proceed inland at a very high speed. AAAVs could be more
than 100 miles inland on the first day of operation without too much difficulty.
What are some of your other high-priority aviation recapitalization requirements?
JONES: The KC-130J [Hercules aircraft equipped with an improved aerial-refueling
system] is an important addition to our aviation forces. The most enabling
platform for deliverability and sustainability that allowed Marines to
do what they did in Afghanistan was the venerable C-130 aircraft. If we
had not had them organically assigned as part of our force, it would have
been a showstopper. Right behind the C-130, the performance of the CH-53E
helicopter as a heavy lifter was absolutely paramount to our ability to
accomplish our mission. Without those two platforms being organically
assigned to the Marine Corps, we would not have been able to respond with
the speed and cohesion that we demonstrated.
We are trying to create more capability out of our UH-1s and AH-1s, the
Huey and Cobra helicopters with a four-bladed [rotor system] program.
They have been exciting to watch. We are getting tremendous performance
indicators out of both of those aircraft.
Lastly, in the unresolved column, is the issue of what we will do to
modernize our electronic-warfare capability--the EA-6B [Prowler]. This
is a "work in progress." Among the Navy, Air Force, and Marine
Corps, we need to sort out who does what, and what does the box look like?
Shortfalls in amphibious lift and naval-fires support have been the long
poles in the tent for naval expeditionary-warfare capabilities for many
years. Is enough being done to improve capabilities in these areas?
JONES: One of the key points regarding amphibious lift that demonstrates
how the Navy and Marines are joined at the hip across the board is the
fact that the CNO's articulation of requirements often cites the need
for an LHD 9 and a subsequent LHA-R, the replacement for the LHA, and
the LPD 17 [San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock] as his top priorities.
I am very satisfied with our emphasis on modernizing our amphibious ships.
We have no daylight between us on this issue. Like the CNO, I believe
the nation needs more of their capabilities, not less.
Naval-fires capability is a problem. I can't say that anyone in the Navy
or Marine Corps is satisfied with the progress that we have made. Whether
improved systems are for now limited by technology, commitment, or funding,
we are not where we need to be today. It needs more attention--especially
long-range precision fires. Both the Navy and Marine Corps want to see
better work in this area--and more quickly, but during my time in office
this area has not come along as rapidly as many other programs.
Without getting into the details of the administration's 2004 budget
request, will it continue to improve quality of service, current readiness,
and recapitalization programs?
JONES: Very much so. We are enjoying the best readiness investments that
I have seen in more than two decades. Regarding quality-of-life issues,
one of the best transformational initiatives I have seen has been the
successful implementation of public-private ventures to recapitalize base
housing for Marines. By 2007, we will have either modernized or rebuilt
half of the housing units in the Marine Corps. They will be quality homes
built and maintained by reputable builders that will make everyone proud.
Marines have reacted phenomenally when they see the benefit of this type
of housing. I have never seen anything like it in my 35 years as a Marine.
It is the best thing we have ever done for the Marine Corps family.
Are you seeing a return on the investment that the Marine Corps, the
Bush administration, and the Congress are placing in the quality of service
for Marines and their families--in retention, for example?
JONES: We do. We have an All Volunteer Force, so it means that, at some
point in their lives, every Marine wanted to be here. For people who decide
to reenlist or extend, we have a special community we need to focus on.
Statistically, the Marine Corps is a bit different from our sister services--68
percent of all Marines are always on their first enlistment. That is a
tremendous turnover. We need to recruit almost 40,000 Marines every year;
this sees us return a high number of high-quality citizens back to our
cities and towns. We need to focus on the 32 percent of our force who
have career aspirations, and we target them. Our first-term and, more
importantly, second-term attrition reflects that emphasis. People are
seeing what is happening and appreciate it. Our exit rate for the career
force is slowing to a trickle.
You will soon report to familiar territory overseas to perform dual-hatted
responsibilities as NATO's supreme allied commander Europe and the commander
in chief of the U.S. European Command [EUCOM]--the first Marine to serve
in this position. What awaits you?
JONES: My outlook is one of anticipation and great interest. I never
anticipated being asked to serve in these capacities. I was raised in
Europe for nearly 15 years from the age of three onward, and I served
at EUCOM from 1992 to 1994. The NATO Alliance is still the world's most
important military alliance. The president and the secretary of defense
have asked me to lend a hand there. I am honored to do that.
What can you tell our readers about Lt. Gen. Michael Hagee, the Marine
nominated to relieve you and serve as the 33rd commandant?
JONES: He is a great selection! General Hagee is widely known inside
and outside of the Marine Corps as a thoughtful leader, someone who has
been tested in all different walks of professional life--here in Washington
and in the field. He commands the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force now and
is a combat veteran, so I believe that he and Silke [Mrs. Hagee] will
bring dynamic leadership to the Marine Corps. We should all celebrate
the excellent judgment that the president and secretary of defense showed
in asking them to step forward to assume this very important responsibility.
The mark of the man is that I heard about him many years before I ever
knew him--and always in glowing terms. When I did get to know him I learned
that all of the good things I had heard about him were understated.
He really is a remarkable Marine. Diana [Mrs. Jones] and I look forward
to helping him and Silke transition to this wonderful job in a seamless
What are the greatest challenges General Hagee will face?
JONES: He will see many of the same challenges that I would face if I
were going to continue on as commandant. We must continue to make the
case for modernization and transformation. We need to continue to build
bridges with the special-operations community. We must make sure that
the current harmony between the Navy and the Marine Corps continues to
be developed so that the word naval is a unifying word. That requires
considerable attention if we are to have a culture reflecting the support
of the rank and file and not just temporary obedience to the will of either
the 32nd or the 33rd commandant.
It will be important to continue to build relationships abroad--with
other marine corps and navies of the world--to allow access to training
areas and to cultivate military-to-military relationships that are important
to a nation of great influence like the United States.
There is no question of the need to continue to make the case "inside
the Beltway" that the right level of investment in the armed forces
of the United States is approximately three-and-a-half to four percent
of our nation's gross domestic product. It is incumbent on the service
chiefs to continue to explain to the American people what they obtain
for that level of investment--something that is not always clear.
My view of what a service chief does is very simple: You are responsible
for leading your service. In this day and age that means not only leading
the service, but also shaping it so that it can be usable to the joint
force. That function has a completely different set of metrics to it than
it did 20 years ago. The second thing a service chief must do is to be
able to fight the "Battle of Washington!" It is another high-risk
battlefield, but one that it is very important to the viability and survivability
of our forces when you make the case for what it is that you do--to your
civilian leadership here in the Pentagon, to the elected leadership on
Capitol Hill, or to the media.
From my standpoint it would be ideal to have a stable level of investment
in the country's national-security requirements. I see what the armed
forces do all over the world to be the first enabling element for the
blessings of democracy that we sometimes take for granted: a powerful
and robust economy, an expanding culture, and the basic freedoms we enjoy.
Our armed forces teach the values of a democratic society by example everywhere
they go--particularly the importance of the subordination of military
to civilian leadership. General Hagee will have his hands full, I am sure,
but he will do a great job!
As you prepare to report for duty in Europe, what message do you have
for the men and women of the Marine Corps?
JONES: As I come to a close of my tour as the 32nd commandant, I want
Marines to know that they can be very proud of what they are doing. They
have great relevance to whatever the nation does on the globe's surface--from
peacekeeping operations to potential combat. They, along with our Navy,
Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard partners, add significantly to the wide
range of options available to our commander in chief--and they do it spectacularly
well. I have never had a bad day in office. I have had some sad days.
If there is any regret, it is that we still have not turned the corner
on an effective implementation of a safety program that reaches way down
into our very young force. We train our Marines to believe that they are
indestructible. Unfortunately, too many of them get out on the nation's
highways and act like they really are. We will do better. We have the
right program in place--2001 was our best year for aviation safety in
the history of Marine Corps aviation, but we regressed in 2002. Safety
problems are not something that generals are going to solve--it will be
second lieutenants and staff sergeants. Once they become convinced that
this must be done, the system will work.
I leave office with the highest degree of satisfaction and great pride
in what the Marine Corps is today--I am extraordinarily proud of who we
are as a service and what we do. Marines feel that way themselves, and
that is the sign of a healthy organization.
In closing, and on behalf of the Navy League, we wish you every continued
success in your new assignment. Is there anything else that you would
like to say to the readers of Sea Power?
JONES: The Navy League is very important to the Marine Corps and to our
ability to articulate our message on a consistent basis. Sea Power magazine
is one way to do that. It is a magazine that I certainly look forward
to reading, and I would encourage any serious student of what we do--in
the Navy or Marine Corps--to read it to stay current. It goes beyond the
services. National security should be everyone's business, and Sea Power
goes a long way toward answering many of the questions that people have
on their minds. I am grateful to the Navy League and the magazine for
your thoughtful courtesies toward me during my three and one-half years
in office. I hope that if the spirit moves you Sea Power will come to
see me overseas! *