MCA&F 2012 Ground Dinner - Crystal Gateway Marriott
The Marine Corps Association & Foundation hosted the Winter Ground Dinner on Thursday, 29 November 2012 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. An annual event which focuses on issues of importance to the ground element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force, the dinner was co-hosted by HMC Plans, Policies and Operations (PP&O) Division and featured LtGen John M. Paxton, Jr., Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces Command, Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces, Europe and the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic as the guest speaker. LtGen Paxton was recently nominated for appointment as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and for promotion to General.
Well-attended, the dinner was preceded by a no-host social hour and a concurrent VIP reception for over 60 General Officers and Special Executive Service (SES) officials along with many MCA&F sponsors and at the conclusion the dinner guests were summoned to the banquet hall. Guests were briefly serenaded by “The Commandant’s Own” United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps playing a selection of Civil War music including an inspiring rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Reception prior to dinner
Following a presentation of the colors ceremony by a color guard detachment from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., the Drum and Bugle Corps played the National Anthem. The “Voice” of the Marine Corps Band made a brief presentation explaining the significance of the official Battle Color of the Marine Corps with its 54 streamers, oak leaf clusters and stars. After playing the Marines Hymn, the Drum and Bugle Corps marched off with precision and MCA&F’s Quantico Area Representative, SgtMaj Kevin Bennett, USMC (Ret) took the stage to introduce MCA&F President and Chief Executive Officer, MajGen Edward G. Usher, USMC (Ret).
Bugler summons guests to banquet room
Voice of the Marine Corps Band provides ceremony narration
Drum & Bugle Corps serenade
Color Guard Ceremony
Drum & Bugle Corps march off followed by Drum Major
MajGen Usher called for a round of applause for the Drum and Bugle Corps and for SgtMaj Bennet and then thanked the 60 plus General officers and SES officials in attendance for being present. He offered his congratulations to LtGen Paxton for his nomination for promotion and appointment as the next ACMC, welcomed all the dinners guests and thanked all the MCA&F members and sponsors in attendance for their support.
Turning to the occasion, he mentioned that the MCA&F Ground Dinner is held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the USMC “Ground Board” which meets yearly to discuss issues of importance to the ground community and he pointed out that all 4 of the Marine Division Commanding Generals were in attendance at the dinner.
The four Marine Division Commanders
He advised the guests that this was the last MCA&F dinner the Association would conduct in 2012 and that 2013 was the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps Association. MajGen Usher pointed out that the Association made a real impact on Marines and had, with member and donor support, spent over $140,000 supporting the Commanders’ Unit Library Program over $160,000 on the Marine Excellence Awards Program and over $70,000 supporting Commanders’ Forums in efforts to foster professional development and recognize Marine excellence. He then introduced Captain Craig Muehler, USN, Deptuy Chaplain of the Marine Corps who provide the dinner’s invocation.
Chaplain Muehler delivers the dinner invocation
Following a delightful meal featuring New York Strip Steak, LtGen Richard Tryon, Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations took the stage to introduce the guest speaker. He acknowledged the General Officers and industry partners in the audience and then said he was grateful to MajGen Usher, MajGen Harry Jenkins (MCA&F Chairman of the Board) and the Association for their support throughout the year and for setting up the dinner. He then introduced guest speaker, LtGen John Paxton.
LtGen Tryon introduces guest speaker LtGen Paxton
LtGen Paxton started his presentation by thanking MajGen Usher and the MCA&F for all they do to support the Marine Corps and then mentioned that it had been four years since he had the opportunity to attend a MCA&F Ground Dinner.
Launching into his presentation he stressed throughout that the Marine Corps operational forces now face a new reality – a new norm with vastly expanded operational tempo on an unprecedented scale and that another key factor in the new norm is a world with less violence than previous armed conflicts or wars but with a more fragile world and operational situations. He pointed out that the optempo of the Marine Corps of the 80’s and 90’s was gone and the frenetic optempo of today was here to stay and presented Marines with some steep challenges requiring Marine forces to be “ready relevant” and always good to go in an arena of fluid dynamics. He pointed out that accelerating fiscal constraints are forcing a dramatic reduction in Marine Corps end strength which, combined with expanding calls for Marine presence greatly contributes to the increasing tempo with resulting impact on training readiness. He suggested that fluid dynamics in some cases would mean Marines would have to perform some kinds of certification training en-route to operational areas or while on actual deployments.
In light of the new reality, he stated that one thing Marines must do is learn to work smarter with the Navy and then pointed out that the Marine Air Ground Task Force provides the nation with ready and relevant options.
Guest speaker presentation
MajGen Usher presents LtGen Paxton with memento from MCA&F
For video presentation of the event and the complete guest speaker presentation, click on the link below: