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Kessler: Marines will adapt to changing environment

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Marine Corps Logistics Command Commander Maj. Gen. Jim Kessler told the Dougherty County Rotary Club Tuesday that the Marines are changing focus after eight years and two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Commandant (Gen. James T. Conway) has expressed some concern about eight years of fighting like a land army instead of an expeditionary force," Kessler told Rotary Club members. "He's also concerned we have come to rely too much on contractors when we need to focus more on taking care of ourselves in austere environments.

"We will, however, maintain our regional focus yet remain globally capable. We remain committed to being flexible enough to fight across a wide range of operations."

Kessler described the unique bond between Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany and the Southwest Georgia area. As Dougherty County's largest employer with more than 4,000 civilians, contractors and Marines, the base pumps more than $660 million annually into the local economy.

"As a work force, we are the community," the general said. "We see opportunities to work with all of you. We see it as an investment in this community, our community."

Kessler pointed to the fact that MCLB-Albany had recently leased the 261,000-square-foot former Bridgestone distribution center as evidence of the base's evolving role in the community.

"We are getting a lot of equipment back from Iraq right now," he said. "We are storing and 'unstuffing' the containers of equipment there. We've got a few left with more coming. Then we'll repair and reissue."

Kessler stressed that the Marines are not abandoning a large amount of equipment in Iraq.

"By and large, we will bring back everything we think we have a need for and that we can repair," the general said.

Kessler compared the Marine base to other local businesses.

"What we are doing here is truly a business," he said. "We worry about profit and loss, just like you do in your businesses. We are always looking for new business.

"If you have any leads, let us know," he added, smiling.