July 12, 2013 -- CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa - “This tour has been the fastest two and a half years of my life but without a doubt the most rewarding time in my career,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., the outgoing commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force. “That is all due to the great Marines and sailors that have dedicated their lives to the defense of our nation. Thanks to their unfailing leadership and commitment, III MEF will remain our nation’s force of choice in the Pacific. It has been my distinct honor to serve as your commanding general and be part of this tremendous team.”
Glueck will relinquish command of III MEF July 19 at Camp Foster during a ceremony marking the end of Glueck’s command of Marine forces in the Asia-Pacific region, which began Jan. 7, 2011.
Glueck will be reassigned as the deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration; commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; commander, Marine Corps Forces Strategic Command; commanding general, Marine Corps National Capital Region Command; and commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces National Capital Region.
Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler will assume the duties of the commanding general during the ceremony, following an assignment as the deputy commandant for Programs and Resources, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps in D.C.
Glueck worked to prepare III MEF to meet its mission as America’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. His efforts included overseeing the re-institution of the unit deployment program to bring stateside units to Okinawa for rotational deployments and introduction of the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
“Being our Corps’ only forward-stationed and deployed MEF, we are prepared for any crisis that could occur in the Western Pacific,” said Glueck. “We can deploy and be on scene within hours, not days and weeks. As the impact of sequestration is felt across the joint force, our role as the nation’s premier crisis response force becomes even more important.
“III MEF can get command and control and real operational capability forward faster than any force in the Pacific. We need to keep the tip of the spear sharpened and ready to respond 24/7 for any and all contingencies.”
III MEF proved capable of meeting its expeditionary mission throughout Glueck’s command; participating in bilateral and joint exercises and humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief operations across the region.
“III MEF repeatedly exercised its crisis response capability during Lt. Gen. Glueck’s command,” said Col. Sean M. McBride, the chief of staff of III MEF. “Through the experience gained during Operation Tomodachi, Lt. Gen. Glueck developed a quick-response capability that allowed III MEF to quickly plan and execute an HADR operation anywhere in the theater.”
Glueck’s connection to Okinawa dates back to shortly after he received his designation as a naval aviator in 1976, when he was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Glueck deployed to Okinawa twice with HMLA-169. He would serve two additional tours on island before assuming command of III MEF, first from 1987-89 and again in 2003-05 when he served as the commanding general of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III MEF.
Glueck’s time leading 3rd MEB paid dividends when the Marine Air-Ground Task Force was activated during his time as commanding general of III MEF.
“His experience with 3rd MEB showed him the capabilities of a MEB, but more importantly the options a MEB provides and the opportunities to get the MEB out the door,” said McBride. “As soon as 3rd MEB activated, Lt. Gen. Glueck had it engaged in exercises and planning for crisis response operations. There was no breaking-in period.”
The general’s experience and knowledge of the region combined with his leadership qualities helped III MEF successfully meet operational requirements, as well as expand expeditionary capabilities.
“He has vision and is able to articulate that vision into clear guidance,” said McBride. “He trusts his subordinates and allows them the freedom of action to work toward his end-state without micromanaging; this grows confidence and allows for creativity.”
The rapid response of III MEF units to the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami of March 11, 2011, during Operation Tomadachi stands out as a point of pride for Glueck.
“I believe that our rapid response during Operation Tomodachi epitomized the expeditionary character of III MEF,” said Glueck. “We successfully demonstrated the strong commitment we have to both the government of Japan, as well as to our friends and neighbors. Each and every day during the operation, I was amazed by the individual initiative and leadership displayed by our III MEF and Marine Corps Installations Pacific Marines and sailors.
“No other organization could have responded as quickly and as effectively,” Glueck said.
The Marines and sailors of III MEF stand poised to continue building upon Glueck’s efforts as they move forward as the nation’s only permanently forward-deployed MEF.
“Periodically throughout my command, I have provided guidance to the force, and I would ask our Marines to review it,” said Glueck. “We need to maintain our edge as the nation’s premier force in readiness. There are no second chances. I know that this MEF will be tested in the future. The question is not if, but only when. Continue to train hard, use your initiative, and be responsible and accountable for your actions. The nation depends on us!”