Small Wars Journal

An Interview with General James T. Conway

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An Interview with General James T. Conway, USMC

34th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Joint Force Quarterly Interview by David H. Gurney and Jeffrey D. Smotherman

Joint Force Quarterly has kindly granted Small Wars Journal permission to

publish this forthcoming JFQ article.

Download the Full Article: An Interview with General James T. Conway

JFQ: For several years, the Marine Corps has been operating very closely with the United States Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. To what degree have sea service skill sets atrophied, and do you sense that some increasingly see the Marine Corps as a second Army?

General Conway: I'll answer the second part first. The bottom line is that the Marine Corps, as we say, "does windows." That has prompted us in both Iraq and Afghanistan to operate 500 miles from the smell of salty sea air. But that's okay with us. If there's a fight to be engaged in, we're going to be there, and so we've made the necessary adjustments to make it all work. In 2003, we lined up alongside V Corps and 3d ID [Infantry Division], and did something that no MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] has ever done—that is, to attack 500 miles from Kuwait to Baghdad and beyond. It really strained our capacity to do that, but we were pretty proud of ourselves that in the end we were able to make those kinds of adjustments. Going back to Iraq in 2004, and subsequently in Afghanistan, we've had to heavy-up, because of the threat, because of the employment methodologies, and so forth. So yes, we have in some ways become a second land Army.

I think we're able to morph in and out of those kinds of conditions and missions based on events, but we do not feel as though we are being properly employed as a second land Army. We have more to offer the Nation. When I go to meetings and I hear "Army and Marine Corps" talked about in the same breath, I get uncomfortable. It should be "Navy and Marine Corps." One day, again, it will be. But right now, we're simply doing what the Nation asks us to do. We're trying to keep current, and polish those Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard skills. My people get it, they buy into it, and as we see more dwell, 14 months at home between combat deployments, I think we're going to be able to return to our naval and amphibious roots on an increasingly incremental basis.

Download the Full Article: An Interview with General James T. Conway

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