MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP SMEDLEY D. BUTLER OKINAWA, Japan – --
After making his remarks, the CMC opened the floor to the audience, allowing them to ask questions about topics they wanted to address. The following are questions asked on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma:
1. Q: Some Marines are running 1st class PFT’s and 1st class CFT’s but they are struggling with their height and weight standards. What are you going to do to change that?
A: If you follow what’s going on, there was just a message that published by TECOM because I have gotten a lot of questions like that specifically from female Marines that are working on their pull ups. They are saying “Hey c’mon you’re telling me to do pull ups and I’m gaining weight and now I’m outside the standards, what’s going on? Do you want me to do pull ups or not?” It has always been an issue for people who are fit when they get bigger and stronger.
We are going to do a whole review and by 1 July we are going to bring changes. It’s interesting, I asked what the other services do and no one is the same. What I am going to try to do is look at the fitness test and then women, we are going to look at the CFT and the scoring, we are going to look at the height and weight. We are all professional and I view us as professional athletes. We are not average, so I don’t know what the right height and weight standard is for someone who is very physically fit, very strong and still looks good in their uniform. That’s the spot that I am trying to find.
2. Q: I have a question about tuition assistance. In the past 13 systems there has been some frustrations. Is there going to be anything for that in the future?
A: As far as I understand, if the president signs this new budget deal the tuition assistance won’t be available until after the first two years active duty time. So there will be tuition assistance.
3. Q: I was wondering how you felt about the threat that ISIS poses on us and how you feel that the Marine Corps will handle that in the future?
A: ISIS is a very complicated situation. They are terrorists. They have hijacked a religion, they’ve got terrain. The president has been very clear that we are going to defeat and we are just going to wait and see what the next step is. There are over 750 Marines in Iraq right now that are involved in fighting ISIS with the Iraqis. For this expand into Syria, I don’t know. There are Marine Harriers and before that Marine Hornets from special forces MAGTF flying and dropping bombs probably right now as we speak. Is that going to be enough to defeat these guys?
Are the Iraqis going to be able to provide a viable ground force that is equivalent to put enough force on them? That remains to be seen. I communicate with folks over there and you have read in the papers where people are calling for more U.S. forces. I’ve already seen this movie once. I was in this movie once. Can we send a Marine force into Iraq and pound these guys into the ground? Could we? Absolutely and some Marines would get hurt but we would kick them in the butt, no problem. But then the question is what’s next? Who do we give it to?
I don’t want to stay in Iraq. There is nothing there that I want, but they are a threat to the homeland and it is something that we should be concerned about so my sense is that over the next few weeks you are going to see how this evolves as the discussion takes place and we get others involved so that we can support them. In the meantime I think that there is a high probability that as we amp up on air strikes that they are going to start to crack. My sense is that they did these things in Europe to distract people from what’s happened in Syria because they’re getting pounded into the ground by airstrikes so they had to take the pressure off.
At the end of the day- we get called to go, then we will go. That’s part of being ready.
4. Q: Would you mind giving us a timeline for when they are moving us from MCAS Futenma to Camp Schwab? They have told my Marines that they won’t continue to renovate the barracks anymore and with every typhoon that has come through, the AC has cut out or the power gets cut out and as you know the weather out here is hot and can cause things to be difficult during the summer when they do not have power in the barracks.
A: That is a very good question. We have been wrestling this Futenma replacement thing for a number of years. I was up at Schwab yesterday and I saw the demonstrators. Most of them probably don’t live on Okinawa. There’s two barracks that they are trying to build because they need to finish those to move people out of the other barracks but the demonstrators are apparently blocking cement trucks from getting to Schwab to finish the construction. How much longer is this going to go on?
I don’t know, all I can tell you is that I will go back and look at all of the money that we are putting in here. Even though I have lived here with no air conditioning, I would not recommend it to anybody. So if there is a problem with the barracks- we ask a lot of you and you usually do it without question- but I will get with my guys and find out how much money there is for at least the "H" factor. There is this pressure on the money. We are leaving so they put money over here and yet we never leave so all I ask you, like I would ask of anyone, is that you take the best care of these facilities that you can. It is what it is.
5.Q: As a retired Marine, I’m concerned about the Marine Corps’ ability to meet future conflicts with rogue terrorist states if called upon? Are we ready and what are we doing to prepare?
A: First off I think we are ready. Are we as ready as we would like to be, no. What are we doing to prepare, we are trying to modernize and it’s not going to happen overnight. We are trying to make sure the most modern thing and the most capable thing is the Marines and I feel the best about that. We are going to try to get better every day and we are going to try to get better every day, we are going to try to get every model type series fielded, We are going to try to continue to train.
For 15 years we were doing a counter insurgency stability ops. One of the great things about coming out to Okinawa is that you get to come out here and operate on this ground and this is very difficult ground. We are going back to the basic mission essential attack and defend, reinforce, get back on ship for amphibious ops and continue to train. I think our readiness is good, but it’s not as good as it needs to be.
6.Q: With the recent tensions in the China Sea, what would war in Asia look like?
A: Well the history of this region if you go back to WWII where we fought our now ally Japan, what was the role of the Marine Corps? What did we do? Cease and secure Naval bases. If someone was out there to start putting their forces on the little islands out there in the middle of the ocean how would you go about conducting operations against them? You come from the sea. Who comes from the sea? We do.
If something happens down there we could go down there and reinforce, we could go down there and re-insure our allies, go down there to train. Nobody wants a fight in the South China Sea or anywhere. But there is going to be tension and this is a very important part of the world. You’ve got 40% of the people and the biggest economies so have that confrontation that involves combat probably isn’t in anyone’s interest.
7.Q: Will the Marine Corps ever allow for single NCO’s to be able to get off-base housing?
A: I know that in some places depending on the housing situations Marines rate [BAH] and if there is not a sufficient amount of space in the barracks they are allowed to do that. I don’t believe that this is one of those places. What you are asking though is that even though there is sufficient space in the barracks we should give that Marine extra money to just go live out in town.
That is probably not going to happen. There is just not enough money to do that. As much as I might want you to have that opportunity, I just don’t see that happening unless the barracks was full and I had nowhere else to properly house you. I need your leadership in the barracks. Junior Marines need to see their NCO’s in the barracks so I know that is asking a lot but I need you in the barracks.