MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. – What does the United States expect from its Marine Corps?
A young Marine asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that question during a town hall meeting here today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said that he has asked himself that basic question about all U.S. armed services.
"We need you to be exactly who you are," the chairman told the theater full of Marines and family members.
He said the service is the "rock upon which this great military of ours rests."
This consistency is needed as the fiscal situation becomes more confusing and uncertain, he said. The resources devoted to the military will go up and down – but the military and especially the Marines must be constant, the chairman said.
Dempsey said the Marine Corps is known as the nation's ready force: Ready to go where the country needs them, via sea or air. But the service also has another image equally important to Americans – that of a new Marine receiving the eagle, globe and anchor in his or her grimy hands having just finished the final recruit test known as the Crucible. "You have to be that young man or woman walking through the airport who just looks like a Marine," Dempsey said.
But it is more than looks; it is character, he said. The Marines' Hymn is the only service song that specifically mentions a value. "I find that to be the most important thing about the United States Marine Corps, that you take it upon yourselves to commit to keep your honor clean," the chairman said.
"What do I expect of the Marine Corps? I expect you to be Marines."
The town hall was last event of the chairman's visit to the air base and nearby Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. He visited with Lt. Col. Gabrielle Hermes, the commander of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds, the commander of the depot, drill instructors, support personnel and many others at the gateway to the Corps.
At the air base, he toured the F-35 pilot training facility that is nearing completion, as well as the new hangar complex for the aircraft.