III MEF bids Glueck farewell, welcomes Wissler
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr. relinquished his duties as the commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force to Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler at a change of command ceremony aboard Camp Foster today.
Glueck assumed command of the III MEF in January 2011. Under his charge, III MEF responded to multiple natural disasters across the Asia-Pacific region with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, including Operation Tomadachi, which followed the devastating 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Also during Glueck’s tour, the first squadron of MV-22B Osprey aircraft arrived on Okinawa in 2012, and he oversaw the planning for the arrival of the second squadron, scheduled later this summer.
During Glueck’s tenure, III MEF also resumed normal rotational deployments of aircraft and infantry battalions, part of the Marine Corps’ unit deployment program, which was reduced in scale in 2003 due to increased personnel demands in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. The UDP increases participation in numerous exercises with allies and partner nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, Glueck oversaw the start of regular U.S. Marine deployments to Australia, known as Marine Rotational Force Darwin, improving Australia-U.S. interoperability, and reflecting the enduring alliance and common security interests.
Glueck will serve next at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps as the deputy commandant of Combat Development and Integration; commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; commander, Marine Corps Forces Strategic Command; commanding general, Marine Corps National Capital Region Command; and commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces National Capital Region.
During his farewell remarks, Glueck expressed his sincere appreciation for the Marines and sailors of III MEF.
“This tour has been the fastest two and a half years of my life but without a doubt the absolute most rewarding time in my career,” he said. “There is nothing better than being forward-stationed, forward-deployed, at the tip of the spear, a premier force in readiness; and having to actually show it and demonstrate it on a daily basis … that is truly rewarding.
To our Marines and sailors, you are a certain force in an uncertain world,” Glueck added. “Thanks to your unfailing leadership and commitment, III MEF will remain our nation's force of choice in the Pacific. It has been my distinct honor to serve as your commanding general and be part of this tremendous team.”
Wissler’s previous assignment was as the deputy commandant for Programs and Resources, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps in D.C.
Wissler served on Okinawa previously and completed two deployments with the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit, which was re-designated as the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. His first field- grade command assignment was as the executive officer of Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Wing Support Group 17; MWSS-172 is currently part of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. He also served as the operations officer and executive officer of MWSG-17. Wissler also served as the Marine Corps’ aide to the president from July 1991 to August 1993, serving Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He has participated in deployments to Honduras, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, taking part in Operations Eagle Claw and Iraqi Freedom.
During the ceremony, Wissler’s words revealed his intent for leading III MEF.
“To the Marines of III Marine Expeditionary Force, to the sailors who serve alongside of us, you are so critical for our success. Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your commitment, thank you for your dedication; and I promise you this, we will be ready to fight tonight, we will be partner-enabled, and we will be able to respond to any crisis.”
The incoming commanding general is expected to oversee the continued realignment of forces in the Asia-Pacific to ensure III MEF’s capability to serve as the nation’s force in readiness in the region.
“John (Wissler), you have my utmost confidence as you take command,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, who attended the ceremony after visiting Marines and sailors aboard Camp Schwab and Hansen July 18. “As the deputy commandant for Programs and Resources your efforts overseeing, developing and justifying the Marine Corps’ budget requirements were crucial during a marked period of financial distress for our nation. Your experience and leadership will be invaluable to the Marines and sailors of III MEF.”
Amos was joined at the ceremony by Gen. Eiji Kimizuka, the chief of staff of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett along with distinguished guests from the JSDF, the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, and Japan and Okinawa government officials.
For photos and stories from today’s ceremony, please visit the links below.