Tuesday, December 23, 2008

III MEF commanding general visits Afghanistan Marines

Story by: Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force serving in Afghanistan received a surprise visit from their top leader Dec. 23 on Kandahar Air Field, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, commanding general of III MEF and Marine Corps Bases Japan, took time out of his busy schedule to visit Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan and thank them for their sacrifice and service during the holiday season.

During his visit, Zilmer focused his attention on his Marines from Okinawa, Japan, who make up a large portion of the SPMAGTF-A command element.

“This is a very difficult mission,” Zilmer said. “This is job number one for the Marine Corps and you are the foundation. It’s going to be harder for you than it is for the Marines that will follow, but that’s only possible because of the hard work you are putting in now.”

During his stay, the general ate lunch with several of his troops and held a town hall meeting later in the day. He addressed several issues specific to MCBJ, such as the liberty card policy, the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma relocation effort and political relations with Japan, which he stressed were good.

After his time with the Marines ended, Zilmer had a few parting words to give them regarding his expectations of his Marines and his confidence in their abilities.

“I expect the Marines and sailors from III MEF will not just perform their missions to the best of their abilities, they will set the standard of performance so high, that those that follow will have difficulty matching,” he said.

SPMAGTF-A’s mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations, and train and mentor the Afghan National Police.

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