The Marines and sailors of Marine Forces Europe and Africa hosted the fifth annual Theater Marine Conference at the Marine headquarters building on U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Panzer Kaserne Sept. 18-20.
“Many of the Marines who attended the conference are the only U.S. military personnel at their locations and some are the only Americans,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Don McCutchen, the conference coordinator. “We structured this year’s conference to provide information and training pertinent to their situations and administrative support otherwise unavailable to them.”
Marines stationed throughout Europe and Africa came to receive annual training, and medical and dental audits not readily available at their outlying duty stations. Some attendees came as far away as Azerbaijan, Morocco, Kenya, Armenia and the United Kingdom.
Col. Gregory Douquet, MFE chief of staff, kicked off the conference with opening remarks, then the Marines received briefs on officer and enlisted assignments, the Defense Travel System, hazing, the MFE and MFA Campaign Plans, and conducted career monitor meetings.
“We established appointments for all the attendees to meet with their monitors,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Piasecki, the MFE administrative operations officer. “These meetings were critical for the Marine attendees who are looking to continue to their next duty stations, as well for their career advancement.”
Day 2 began with what Marines do best — physical training, or PT — as the Marines all took their annual Combat Fitness Test.
Then it was back to the classroom for briefs on the Post 9/11 GI Bill, counter-intelligence, “Never Leave a Marine Behind” training, Equal Opportunity and information assurance.
Throughout the day, the Marines also continued their scheduled monitor meetings, conducted administrative audits of their service record books and received dental and medical screenings.
The evening concluded with a professional dinner attended by all the conference attendees and the officers and staff noncommissioned officers of MFE and MFA.
Guest speaker for the coat-and-tie affair was Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, the Marine Forces Africa commander.
“It is essential to pull our Marines back in for their annual training requirements,” Fox said, “but equally important to be back amongst Marines and the camaraderie.” Conference attendee Lt. Col. William Nemeth, Marine Attache for the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan, echoed the MFA commander’s thoughts.
“Coming to MFE for this training and touching base with everything the Marines are doing is great. It allows me the opportunity to see in person how I can best assist the MFE and the European Command’s mission,” Nemeth said. “And it just feels good to be back in a room full of Marines and see all the familiar faces.”
The conference concluded with briefs on ethics, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, and a final round of monitor meetings.
In the end, the organizers were pleased. “Overall, I think the conference went extremely well for the command and for all who attended,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 Don McCutchen said.