Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Marine Corps designates standalone command at MacDill

TAMPA — The Marine Corps designated its new central command at MacDill Air Force Base as a standalone headquarters for its Middle East forces with a brief ceremony Monday.

The leader of the Marine Corps Forces Central Command, or MARCENT, had previously split his time between MacDill and Camp Pendleton in California.

That general had been responsible for MARCENT's 15,000 Marines in the Middle East, in addition to 45,000 assigned to Pendleton.

Now, Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller will be based at MacDill and focus all of his efforts on Marine forces in the Middle East.

His troops fall under the umbrella of U.S. Central Command, or CentCom, which also is headquartered at MacDill.

From a staffing standpoint, the move does not bring any additional personnel to MacDill, the Marine Corps says. About 150 people are assigned to MARCENT's MacDill headquarters.

"This is important for the Marine Corps and for Central Command," Neller said. "Up until now, there has been one officer who had two hats. By virtue of having two different jobs ... you end up having to split yourself. You can't be entirely focused on the one assignment.

"It ... shows commitment to Central Command. It doesn't show a lack of commitment anywhere else."

Neller said the importance of Central Command's area of responsibility was demonstrated by recent events, including the Taliban attack Friday on a U.S. base in Afghanistan that killed two Marines and destroyed at least six Harrier jets.

Referring to the base attack, Neller said: "I'm confident we'll come up with a way to prevent this from happening again. There's a war over there. The enemy gets a vote. For a short period of time, they did what they did. But all of the attackers, except for one we captured wounded, they're no longer able to do this type of thing again."

Why create the standalone command now?

"I would say the events of the past week answer that question by itself," Neller said.

Marine Gen. James Mattis, Central Command's commander, said at the ceremony that having a MARCENT commander focused only on the Middle East would be useful.

"We look for men who enjoy fighting, if it comes to that," Mattis said. "The maniacs who attacked us on 9/11, they thought that by hurting us, they could scare us."

Referring to Marines gathered for the ceremony, Mattis said, "We don't scare."

William R. Levesque can be reached at or (813) 226-3432.

Marine Corps designates standalone command at MacDill 09/17/12 [Last modified: Monday, September 17, 2012 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more


    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.
  2. How visiting a scenic Cuban resort can help save green sea turtles


    The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.

    The beaches of Cuba's Cayo Largo are home to a large population of green sea turtle nests. The Florida Aquarium will lead eco-tours of Cayo Largo next year that will help protect the turtles and fund research.  [Avalon Outdoor]
  3. Photo of the Day for September 22, 2017 - Willets taking flight

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Dan Cleary of Madeira Beach, FL.

  4. Why a true freshman quarterback doesn't kill FSU's title hopes


    Florida State's James Blackman will make history Saturday when the No. 12 Seminoles host North Carolina State in their first game after Hurricane Irma.

    Florida State quarterback James Blackman warms up before a game against Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Atlanta. When Florida State's Deandre Francois, Georgia's Jacob Eason and Texas A&M's Nick Starkel all got hurt in their respective season openers, true freshmen ended up taking over the rest of the way.  (Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)
  5. Puerto Rico could face months without electricity after Hurricane Maria (w/video)


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The eye of Hurricane Maria was nearing the Turks and Caicos early Friday as Puerto Rico sought to recover from the storm's devastation.

    A pregnant woman carries empty plastic bottles to collect water a day after the impact of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Thursday, September 21, 2017. As of Thursday evening, Maria was moving off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with winds of 120 mph (195 kph). The storm was expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday. [Associated Press]