Top U.S. Marine wants back in Vietnam

Within the next few years, U.S. Marines could once again be knee deep in the rice paddies of Vietnam. Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he would like to see Marines training in Vietnam. His remarks came while speaking to local reporters at a conference in San Diego last week. Amos said ...

Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images
Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images
Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images

Within the next few years, U.S. Marines could once again be knee deep in the rice paddies of Vietnam.

Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he would like to see Marines training in Vietnam. His remarks came while speaking to local reporters at a conference in San Diego last week.

Amos said he wanted to see additional Marines training on the ground in Vietnam and other locations around the Pacific as part of the U.S. military’s pivot toward Asia.

Within the next few years, U.S. Marines could once again be knee deep in the rice paddies of Vietnam.

Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he would like to see Marines training in Vietnam. His remarks came while speaking to local reporters at a conference in San Diego last week.

Amos said he wanted to see additional Marines training on the ground in Vietnam and other locations around the Pacific as part of the U.S. military’s pivot toward Asia.

“I’m optimistic,” Amos said about the possibility of getting back into Vietnam. “We’re not training in Vietnam, but I would hope that someday down the road through relationships that we build over the next year or two that we’ll be able to train in Vietnam.”

Vietnam has drawn keen interest in the Pentagon, which wants agreements for American warships to use Cam Ranh Bay, a strategic harbor in Southeast Asia. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the bay aboard U.S. naval sealift ship, last summer. In a moment of bluster in the harbor, Panetta recalled a line from the movie “Master and Commander,” saying “The captain of the ship says, ‘We may be a long way from England, but this ship is England.’ Well, this ship is the United States.”

Amos last week said Marines already are fulfilling his goal to expand training in the Pacific. Two new F-18 squadrons already are flying off of Tinian Island, in the Northern Mariana Islands, north from Guam. The Marines, he said proudly, evoking an even earlier American war in the Pacific, once again are taxiing down the same runway used by the Enola Gay, the World War II B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

The squadrons on Tinian are living under “very austere conditions,” Amos said. For now, the Marines in training are “limited,” he said, “but there.”

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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