II Marine Expeditionary Force
Story by Cpl. Lucas Hopkins
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry, of Texas’ 13th district, visited Marine Corps Air Station New River and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 18.
Rep. Thornberry, who also serves as the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, received a firsthand look of force-related issues with units from II Marine Expeditionary Force.
“[I’m visiting] to get a better understanding of the readiness issues that are facing the force,” said Thornberry. “I’ve received statistics that are concerning about an increase in mishaps and I want to understand why that’s happening and the consequences of the readiness issues the Marine Corps is facing.”
Limited manpower and insufficient equipment were repeatedly brought up to the representative as issues hindering the Marines’ abilities to complete their job-specific tasks.
“The honorable Mr. Thornberry came on deck, asking about personnel shortfalls and procurement issues we have here in 2nd Maintenance Battalion,” said Sgt. Johnathan Sutton Jr., a tank mechanic with the unit. I showed him the personnel tracker board I maintain for the company and all the Marines we have out supporting other operations.”
Thornberry also visited with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 and 2nd Tank Battalion, allowing him to gain knowledge on the individual challenges facing the logistics, air and ground combat units within II MEF.
“I’m asking them about their jobs and about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it to try to understand the challenges they face every day in successfully completing their missions,” said Thornberry.
“The main point we’re trying to get out is we’re being asked to do the same job, we just don’t have as many personnel as we used to have,” said Sutton. “We [also] don’t have the materials needed to fix the gear at a cheaper, quicker pace.”
Following visits to other services and installations, the representative hopes to pass on his understanding to other government officials to help solve the current problems deterring the armed services from effectively carrying out their respective responsibilities.
“You get information and that leads to more questions, more issues that you want to pursue,” said Thornberry. “But the whole purpose is to help find solutions, help find ways that we can help in Congress to address the issues the Marines are facing. But also bring to the attention of top Pentagon leadership what we’re finding and encourage them to help find those solutions.”