CAMP PENDLETON -- 9/23/2021 -- Lt. Gen. Karsten S. Heckl, former commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), sits with his wife as Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger addresses the audience during the I MEF change of command ceremony Sept. 23, 2021 at the 11 Area Parade Deck on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. During the ceremony, Heckl relinquished command of I MEF to Lt. Gen. George W. Smith Jr. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jennifer Andrade.
CAMP PENDLETON -- 9/23/2021 -- Lt. Gen. George W. Smith Jr., commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), addresses the audience during the I MEF change of command ceremony Sept. 23, 2021 at the 11 Area Parade Deck on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. During the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Karsten S. Heckl relinquished command of I MEF to Lt. Gen. Smith Jr. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jennifer Andrade.
Change of leadership at I Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. George W. Smith Jr. selected for reappointment to the grade of lieutenant general, and assignment as commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Smith was serving as the deputy commandant for plans, policies, and operations, Headquarters, Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.
CAMP PENDLETON - Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Karsten S. Heckl passed his duties as commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) to Lt. Gen. George W. Smith, Jr., at a change of command ceremony at Camp Pendleton Sept. 23.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger attended the change of command. The length of the ceremony was compressed and physical attendance will be reduced in adherence to COVID-19 precautions.
Heckl led approximately 51,000 Marines and Sailors while in command of the Corps’ oldest and largest Marine Air-Ground Task Force’s (MAGTF). His service members broke barriers with naval integration and force modernization, leading to several significant accomplishments along the way during the height of a global pandemic.
“I could not be more proud of this team of professionals and what they have accomplished over this past year” said Heckl. “Our focused partnership with 3rd Fleet truly strengthened the Navy and Marine Corps team as a capable and relevant naval expeditionary force-in-readiness.”
I MEF not only maintained deployed forces throughout the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East and Southeast Asia supporting alliances with partner nations, but also tackled domestic issues by providing natural disaster assistance to local, civil and federal authorities to fight wildland forest fires and to assist in administering COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year.
As I MEF prepares for the future, Smith will continue the modernization and experimentation essential to being prepared for upcoming challenges.
“It is an absolute honor to command the I Marine Expeditionary Force,” said Smith. “As a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness, we are postured across the Pacific with Allies and Partners to secure our shared interests, while remaining globally responsive as a crisis response force. I look forward to building upon the tremendous accomplishments of my predecessor, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl.”
Smith most recently served as the Deputy Commandant of Plans, Policies and Operations.
Military News | Navy News | Smith takes command at I MEF