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Sgt Gerard B. Lane, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) mortuary affairs, gives 2nd MLG (Fwd) unit chaplains a tour of the Personnel Retrieval and Processing facility at Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, April 18, 2009. The tour was part of a conference held by Cmdr. Douglas M. Withington, 2nd MLG (Fwd) chaplain, to familiarize small unit chaplains with the command staff’s expectations. (U.S. Marine Corps photograph by LANCE CPL. MELISSA A. LATTY)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Latty

Chaplains' conference connects with command

28 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Latty

CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq – The 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) command chaplain hosted a conference with the group’s subordinate Religious Ministry Teams aboard Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, April 17-18.

The purpose of the conference was to give the RMTs, which normally consist of a chaplain and his or her enlisted religious programmer, throughout 2nd MLG (Fwd) an opportunity to meet with the command staff at Camp Al Taqaddum, as well as to gain a better understanding of what is expected from the RMTs, said Cmdr. Douglas M. Withington, 2nd MLG (Fwd) chaplain.

During the conference, the chaplains discussed how each of their ministries currently operates. They also looked ahead to address any forthcoming obstacles that may arise from the ongoing downsizing and responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq. 

The 2nd MLG (Fwd) command staff, to include the commanding general, Brig. Gen. Juan G. Ayala; the command sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Carl R. Green; the command master chief, Master Chief Tammy R. Heap; and the chief of staff, Col. Vincent A. Coglianese,  addressed the religious leaders during the conference. The leaders informed the RMTs of their command philosophy and how it relates to their expectations for the teams.

The command staff all said one of the most important things is for a chaplain to be approachable.

“Marines and sailors don’t put chaplains in the same category as other officers and that’s how we want it to be,” Withington said.  “We want to be chaplains … religious advisors … and it was great to hear that that’s what they want as well.”

The leaders also mentioned the significance of a chaplain’s presence during missions and operations.

There are certain things that boost a Marine’s morale. The chaplain showing up to a mission or convoy is one of them, Green said during his address to the religious ministry teams.

Showing up to every mission is not always possible for chaplains. Due to the responsible drawdown of U.S. Forces from Iraq and the small unit detachments operating out of remote areas throughout the province, Chaplains must travel to different locations in order to offer their services to all Marines and sailors within the unit. 

During the conference, the chaplains discussed how they could provide support to each of the downsizing units, while still balancing their heavy workloads at their assigned locations.

“In the past year [Camp Al Taqaddum] went from having a chaplain for every unit to now only having three ,” Withington said during his initial remarks at the conference.  “There is a significant population in Sahl Sinjar and Rawah and other small bases that have no chaplain. We can’t possibly meet all of the Marines and sailors there but we need to make it a priority to get to these places to meet their needs.”

Aside from the briefs and discussions, the chaplains toured Camp Al Taqaddum’s Shock Trauma Platoon and Personnel Retrieval and Processing facility.

“These chaplains have had personnel go through the STP and PRP,” Withington said.  “The purpose of the tours was to give the chaplains a chance to meet the people that have taken care of their Marines and sailors.”

At the end of the conference, the chaplains discussed possible future operations to improve and coordinate their ministries.  They plan to distribute responsibilities to provide support to the smaller detachments across Iraq.

For more information about the ongoing mission in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, visit www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/iimeffwd.


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