The 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David H. Berger, and the 19th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, visited Marines with II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River July 30, 2019.

Berger and Black spoke to elements of the 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, discussing information about the future of the Corps and answering questions the Marines had about policies, to include individual leadership, future operations and tattoo regulations.

During the visit, Berger spoke about his strategic direction, which was released in the 38th Commandant’s Planning Guidance. Berger stressed his priority focus areas: force design, warfighting, education and training, core values and command and leadership. He also noted that the Marine Corps is “entering a period of force transformation,” and that the service must be “prepared to make bold decisions” in a rapid manner to stay ahead of adversaries.

Both leaders agreed one way to stay ahead of the nation’s adversaries is to have a stronger Navy-Marine Corps team which enables the joint force to partner, persist and operate forward despite the enemy’s employment of long-range precision fires.

“We have to be ready and lethal with the ability to fight at the sea and from the sea,” Berger said. “The whole Marine Corps needs to learn to fight as a naval force.”

Berger, who succeeded Gen. Robert B. Neller, also stressed the importance of constantly improving as leaders and reminded the Marines to take time out of their day to get to know their junior Marines and address any concerns and issues they might have.

“Treat each other how you would treat someone in combat,” Berger said. “There is no off-duty in being a Marine. We take care of each other.”

A veteran of conflicts in Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq, Berger reminded the Marines of the importance of being combat ready, staying physically and mentally fit, and being prepared for future conflicts and operations.

“The operating environment is more complicated today than it was yesterday,” Berger said. “If you stop educating yourself, you will fall behind in the Marine Corps of the future.”

While the commandant and SMMC discussed the way forward, they also stressed that who we are as a Marine Corps will not change. Referencing the 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Carl E. Mundy, who wrote Leading Marines in 1995, the “soul of the Marine Corps” does not change, said Berger.

“The Marine Corps is not like everyone or everything else. Our standards are higher … our discipline is better… we are physically tough … even if we get knocked down, we will get back up and rejoin the fight … we are known for looking out for each other; we will never leave a Marine behind … there is one standard and that will not change.”

The commandant concluded his speech by challenging the Marines to revisit their core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.

“Set your MOS aside, and remember why you joined the Marine Corps; focus on being the best Marine you can be,” Berger said.