MCA hosted the Fall 2011 Combat Development Dinner in conjunction with the Marine Corps Combat Development Command at the Clubs at Quantico on Tuesday, 18 October. Conducted several times each year, the dinner provides an opportunity for high profile leaders to discuss topics bearing on developing and integrating combat power. This dinner featured the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition.
The Honorable Mr. Stackley
The event commenced with a no-host reception in the club’s bar area adjacent to the banquet hall and featured a musical serenade provided by a detachment of the Quantico Band while the guests socialized. The detachment provided the musical signal to assemble in the banquet hall and MCA’s Quantico Area Representative, SgtMaj Kevin Bennett, USMC (Ret) directed the posting and relief of the colors by a color guard detail from the Quantico Ceremonial Platoon.
Color Guard with SgtMaj Bennett at the Lectern
Musical Serenade During Reception Before Dinner
MajGen Edward G. Usher USMC (Ret), MCA’s President and CEO briefly took the stage to welcome the guests and after making a few sponsor and guest acknowledgements turned the stage over to the evening’s chaplain, Commander Joel Morton, USN for an invocation. Following the invocation, the guests settled down to an enjoyable meal featuring a large cut of tender prime rib of beef as the entrée.
MajGen Usher Addressing Dinner Guests
Dinner Invocation by Chaplain Morton
With dessert downrange, LtGen Richard Mills, USMC, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration took the stage to introduce the evening’s guest speaker. Just recently assigned to MCCDC, LtGen Mills related that he was brand new but that he was quickly learning about the Washington, D.C. area, about MCCDC and quipped that he was also learning about “The Building” referring to the MCCDC HQ’s which is commonly and humorously referred to as the “Death Star.” Referring to the budget crisis, he humorously related that the solution is just around the corner and in the “Out Years” and that that was definitely where he wanted to live – right around the corner and in the “Out Years.” He thanked the MCA sponsors for their support of the evening’s event and he thanked the Marine Corps Association for supporting Marines generally citing MCA support for the Commander’s Courses, the online chats and discussion boards that keep professional dialogue open and alive and also praised the MCA Commanders’ Library and Professional Awards programs as being particularly supportive of Marine professional development. He then introduced the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, the dinner’s featured speaker.
LtGen Mills Introducing Guest Speaker
The Assistant Secretary started his presentation by lauding Marine professionals, pointing out that approximately one month after the horrific events of 911, MAGTF Marines were on the ground in Afghanistan, seizing Forward Operating Base Rhino though they had no central Asian training or expertise. He pointed out that the Marines had been able to respond rapidly and decisively because of MAGTF organization, flexibility, and training and because of the strength of the Navy-Marine team. Expanding further on this theme, he related that the Navy-Marine team had operated simultaneously and to great effect in Al-Anbar, Iraq, Afghanistan, in response to epic level floods in Pakistan and in dealing with tsunami and earthquake relief in Japan.
Reflecting on the issue of the daunting budget crisis facing the country, he pointed out that it filled him with concern to note that we are in the midst of several wars and the already grim budget problems facing the military will automatically get much worse with mandated budget cuts to the military if the U.S. Congress cannot soon agree on alternatives to entitlements programs. Further to the fact that we are at war, he pointed out that the Navy-Marine team was simultaneously dealing with multiple contingencies responding to the “Arab Spring”, assisting with the Fukushima disaster, and actively engaging in Libya and that even with a resource constrained military, no other Navy or Marine Corps could shoulder so many operations. Noting the extraordinary capability available to the war fighter, he concluded that the capability comes at a great cost.
Looking ahead to dealing with the military budget crisis, he asserted that we need to ask a number of hard questions about current and future capabilities and related expenditures. He said the country remains committed to the best military, that sea-power projection capabilities would never go away, and that the Navy is committed to an aircraft carrier force of 11 carriers. He noted that everything is “on the table” and that we must change the way we do business. He closed with a brief discussion about new systems, noting the capabilities the new Joint Strike Fighter bring to the Navy-Marine team and indicated the Navy is looking in to ways to upgrade a class of Amphib ships with a well deck that it currently lacks to provide additional capability.
Provided below are additional pictures taken at the event by MCA Staff Photographer Ron Lunn. For a biography of the guest speaker and a video presentation of the event, including the guest speaker’s remarks, click on the links below:
Dinner Program (coming soon)
MCA Staff Members Working Dinner Registration Table
The Banquet Hall Awaits…
Guests at No Host Reception
MajGen Usher, The Honorable Mr. Stackley, LtGen Mills