MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The Honorable Mr. Dennis McGinn, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Energy, Installations and Environment, visited the Combat Center to observe Integrated Training Exercise 2-14 during his tour of military installations on the West Coast, Feb. 12, 2014.
McGinn, a retired Navy vice admiral, wanted to see how Combat Center Marines are effectively using their energy resources in expeditionary environments. He also wanted to see how Marines train during the ITX to familiarize himself with their operations.
“Mr. McGinn is out on the West Coast to participate in training events directed by the Secretary of the Navy,” said Katie Hantson, analyst, Expeditionary Energy Office. “He actually extended his trip to visit Twentynine Palms. As a former naval officer, he understands the Navy, but in his new position as assistant secretary, he wanted to educate himself on Marine Corps operations to be better in his position.”
The assistant secretary met with Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, Combat Center Commanding General, before heading out to Range 210 to observe aspects of the ITX. Col. Andrew Kennedy, director, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, showed McGinn what the ITX does for the Marine Air Ground Task Force and how the training is applied to forward operations.
McGinn also visited the Battle Simulation Center, where he observed and participated in simulated vehicle operations and rollover training at the Combat Center’s simulation center.
Being a former naval aviator, McGinn had a particular interest in visiting the Air Combat Element. He sat down with the commanding officers of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 and Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 to talk about the functions of an Air Base Ground Defense.
While speaking with Marines participating in ITX 2-14, McGinn was particularly focused on how energy was being used in their day-to-day operations. His concerns included the use of fuel and batteries, and how efficient they are to the individual Marine. He is curious to see how we can lessen the combat load , according to Hantson
“Any time you get to go out into the field with Marines, it’s great,” McGinn said. “The realism of the training, the seriousness with which everybody takes it, is really impressive and is so critical for ITX. I wanted to get a good understanding of how we train Marines. What I saw today was the culture of dedication, competency, teamwork and the fact that everyone is focused on the mission.”
During his time at the Combat Center, McGinn spoke with enlisted Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment; 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and MWSS-374. He sought to get to know some of the Marines that are going to deploy and wanted to hear their thoughts and to see how they were preparing for their upcoming deployment.
McGinn came to the Combat Center to get the Marines’ point of view with how energy is being used. Energy is just one aspect of McGinn’s job and he wants a better understanding from a Marine standpoint.
“I wanted to get a sense of where we are producing and how we are using energy,” McGinn said. “I wanted to understand that the mission of the Marine Corps has so many dimensions and to see how things have happened and changed during the course of 10 years of war. The Marines I met today were absolutely dedicated and enthused. We are fortunate to have this quality of American in our Armed Forces but especially the Marine Corps. It was very impressive.”
McGinn learned a lot in his short time observing ITX. He got a taste of what the Combat Center has to offer. He experienced what Marines do when a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle rolls over, convoy operations, and consuming a Meal Ready to Eat.
McGinn left the same day to fly down to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to attend an event before heading back to the nation’s capital.
“I’m going to tell (Secretary of the Navy Ray Maybus) that the Marine Corps is doing extremely well,” McGinn said. “They’re flexible and thinking about what new challenges await them … they are focusing on the future.”