General James T. Conway, 34th Commandant of the US Marine Corps, leads the May/June issue of Semper Fi, which we publish for the Marine Corps League. In an exclusive interview in late March with Semper Fi contributor Otto Kreisher, General Conway presented a frank assessment of the state of the Corps as it winds down its presence in Iraq and moves in greater numbers into Afghanistan as part of the Long War on Terror.
General Conway discussed in detail his vision of the Corps for the next 15-plus years, amplifying the Corps Vision and Strategy 2025 statement published last year. The Marines, he noted, have become too “heavy” – from massive vehicles to overburdened Leathernecks – which potentially impairs their ability to deploy rapidly aboard ships and planes, and to fight as effectively as possible in difficult terrain. The Corps, he promised, is going on a diet to return to its lean, seafaring roots.
Marines also fly – in fact, air power has long been an integral part of deployed units. Contributor Glenn Goodman Jr. explains the relationship of ground and air forces in the MAGTF – Marine Air-Ground Task Force – along with the birds flown today and their likely successors.
Also in this issue, we visit with Marine veteran Art Beltrone and his wife, Lee, who have spent the past several years rescuing, preserving and curating an exhibit of canvas bunk sheets from a Vietnam-era troop ship. Why? Troops wrote, doodled and memorialized themselves and their families and comrades on these sheets as the Warriors lay in their bunks with the next man just inches above them. The canvases reveal the thoughts of men going off to war, in a turbulent part of our history.
This issue also announces details of the upcoming Marine Week 2009 Chicago, 11-17 May. The event is designed to give residents of cities where Marines have not traditionally had a major presence a chance to know more about the Corps. Most events are free and open to the public, except for a reception on 16 May sponsored by the Marine Corps League at Navy Pier.
Semper Fi is available by subscription and is also a benefit of membership in the Marine Corps League. For information, click here.