WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Marine Corps' top general held a press conference this morning to address the increasing violence in Syria and to request that the Syrians somehow move their conflict to the Pacific Ocean.
Speaking from the Marine Barracks, General James F. Amos said that the Marine Corps would be more than willing to intervene in Syria, provided it was in an amphibious capacity and off the coast of China.
Syrian rebels are currently waging an insurrection against the mostly land-locked and distinctly non-Asian government of President Bashar al-Assad.
"For the past two years we've been saying that the Marine Corps is not a second land army, but they obviously didn't get the message," Amos told reporters.
"After a decade in which the Marine Corps conducted combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, we're eager to get back to our roots as an amphibious force in the Pacific -- not another land campaign in the Middle East."
General Amos has repeatedly talked about pivoting to the Pacific after Afghanistan, starting with his confirmation hearings in the United States Senate in September 2010.
"Right now the biggest issue for the Marine Corps is our forward presence in the Pacific," he reiterated this morning. "Earlier this month we had 200 Marines arrive in Darwin, Australia -- which is nowhere near Damascus -- for six months of training."
However, six months after General Amos first spoke about transitioning to the Pacific, Marines were fighting in Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn. But despite its lack of rice paddies, chopsticks, and massage parlors, General Amos believed that Libya was a step in the right direction.
"At least Libya had a coastline," he continued, "which allowed us to showcase our fantastic operations by the 26th MEU featuring the MV-22 Osprey. Did you know we have nine Amphibious Assault Ships, capable of transporting up to two Marine Expeditionary Brigades to places other than Iraq and Afghanistan?"
The main problem with a Syrian intervention, according to General Amos, is that the Marine Corps is worried about being typecast as an expeditionary force that only deploys to Middle Eastern countries.
"Yes, in 2001, we were able to insert Marines by helo 400 miles from the North Arabian Sea to Afghanistan, and then two years later we moved the 1st Marine Division 500 miles from Kuwait to Baghdad, but that was the limit of our expeditionary experience. Then it was just nine years of mud huts and room clearing."
General Amos spoke of the palpable sigh of relief when the Marine Corps left Iraq. "After OIF, we threw out our Arabic language books, fired our staff at the Center For Advanced Operational Culture Learning, and burned Twentynine Palms to the ground. Last month we were even able to change the channel from Al Jazeera to CCTV."
At the end of his remarks, General Amos offered some helpful suggestions to the Syrian rebels. "Maybe if they could have Syria reclassified as an island, archipelago, or even a peninsula, we could get involved."
"Yesterday I read that the rebel Farouk Brigade had seized control of the city of Homs. Come on, there are 750 islands in the South China Sea! Why couldn't they have grabbed one of those?"