MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Maj. Gen. Glenn M. Walters, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, shared his thoughts on 2012 and his outlook for the new year in a recent interview.
Walters assumed command of 2nd MAW, the Marine Corps’ East Coast aviation wing, in May of 2012. Prior to that, he spent a year in command of 2nd MAW (Fwd.), then the aviation combat element in southwestern Afghanistan.
“Instead of employing the wing in combat, now I’m preparing Marines for combat,” Walters said. “It’s the continuum of who we are as Marines – answering the call to do our nation’s defense wherever we’re called.”
Walters said that his greatest challenge in command of the wing has been to get his roughly 16,000 Marines who are dispersed from North Carolina to Florida on to the same sheet of music. Success in that objective lies in the hands of the individual Marines.
“The biggest challenge to any large organization is to get everybody to understand what the standards are, what we’re doing – but it hasn’t been that big of a challenge,” Walters said. “Because to be brutally honest, we have great leaders in our groups, we have great leaders in our squadrons, we have great staff NCOs, we have great NCOs.”
There wasn’t a shred of hesitation in the general’s response when asked about his favorite part of his job.
“I’m surprised, but I shouldn’t be surprised, at how absolutely brilliant some of our young Marines are,” Walters said. “They can take a new look at old problems and figure out solutions, and they do it with honor and integrity. It makes you feel proud.”
As Walters steps into his first full year as commanding general of 2nd MAW, the wing has activated forward for the war in Afghanistan once again, and will assume aerial responsibility over the same southwestern region in the coming weeks. Brig. Gen. Gary Thomas, who had served as 2nd MAW’s assistant wing commander, is at the helm.
“I think Gen. Thomas is a brilliant aviator and a brilliant commander. I think (he) understands that with fluidity on the battlefield, the mission is going to change day-to-day … The goals have been well established by the leadership in Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. They are just marching toward that goal. That goal has always been, and should remain … to get the Afghan people to be in a position to take on their own security and their own success in the world,” Walters said. “Gen. Thomas is going to do great.”
With the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close and America returning to a time of peace, military operations will change. President Barack Obama and outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta have expressed a desire to transition to a leaner military, with a focus on the Pacific. Moving forward, 2nd MAW will play an important role in the defense of the nation. As part of that, the wing will continue to supply aviation assets to Marine expeditionary units, constantly deployed Marine units equipped to respond to crises anywhere in the world.
“We are getting back to rotations out to the Pacific. We will still provide ready aircraft and ready squadrons to go on our MEUs, which are one of our prime crises response forces, and we’ll have the rest of the force ready to respond to the clarion call wherever they’re needed,” Walters said.
In command of a wing that has proven itself repeatedly over the past 12 years through continuous combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, humanitarian operations in Haiti and international intervention in Libya, the general expressed a commitment to being ready to answer the next call.
“As we transition, I think … there is going to be crisis response work for us to do,” Walters said. “That’s our strength. It will always be our strength, so that line of our business will not change.”