- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A new leader took control of Marines in Europe and on the East Coast of the United States following a change of command in Virginia on Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller became the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe during a ceremony at a parade field at Naval Station Norfolk.

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command is responsible for training and providing Marines to combatant commanders around the world. U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe is based in Stuttgart, Germany, and serves as the Marine component to U.S. European Command. About 119 Marines are stationed at the command’s headquarters in Germany.

Neller will be based in Norfolk - where his counterpart in the Navy is headquartered - and is directly responsible for between 50,000 about 58,000 Marines, depending upon the military exercise and reserve manpower in use. Most of those forces are based in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said that while Neller is responsible for about 30 percent of all active-duty Marines, his impact will be felt well beyond that because the Marines under his command can be sent to Afghanistan or the Pacific, among other places not under his command.

Neller is originally from East Lansing, Michigan, and most recently served as commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command. He had held that post since 2012 and was lauded by Amos for the relationship he built with the Navy’s Fifth Fleet commander, who was his counterpart in Central Command, and allies in the region.

“You’re here for a reason. No good deed shall go unpunished,” Amos joked. “You’ve become a man that can shoulder a heavy burden and we have a lot of heavy lifting left to do here.”

Neller said he planned to address the Marine community on Wednesday.

“There’s a lot going on, some bad, some good. But there’s always opportunity. There’s a pony in there somewhere, and we just got to dig it out,” he said.

Neller takes over from Lt. Gen. Richard T. Tryon, who is retiring after 44 years of service, including one year as the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe.


Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

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