Published: July 17, 2019

Outgoing Marine commandant Neller emphasizes need
to prepare for 'very different' conflicts

Editor's Note: The following article is being reprinted with the permission of Stars and Stripes, which retains all rights. The story was written by Emma Swislow, and originally published July 11, 2019. To read the original story, please visit

This article highlights Gen. Robert Neller (Xi/Virginia 1975).

WASHINGTON — Gen. David H. Berger became the 38th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps during a passage of command ceremony on Thursday, July 11, 2019. He replaces retiring Gen. Robert Neller.

Following musical performances by the United States Marine Band and a parade, Neller presented Berger with the Marine Corps colors, officially handing over the command. Afterwards, acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Neller and Berger spoke to the audience.

Neller talked about the path forward for the Marine Corps, which he said has already made great improvements since he joined in 1975.

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“We’ve got to get ready for the next fight, which is going to be very, very different,” he said. “It’s going to be against someone who is certainly, in many ways, as capable if not more capable than us. Our course of action is not hope, it’s to be prepared.”Neller recounted some of the questions he’s been asked over the past several days in anticipation of his retirement.

“The last question they ask me is what are you most proud of, and that’s tough,” Neller said. “I’m proud of having served for, when they read it last night — 45 years — I almost fell out of my chair. It doesn’t seem like 45 years.”

Berger thanked Neller and the mentors he’s had throughout the years, noting that he is still “coachable.”

Family and friends came up many times during the remarks on Tuesday, with Berger emphasizing the help that Neller and his wife, D’Arcy, gave to Berger’s family.

“There isn’t really a book on how to turn over command, but if there is a gold standard of how to do it, they did it,” Berger said. “That house down there, they moved out three weeks ago, early. I couldn’t tell you the hours they spent around the kitchen table with me and Donna while we asked question after question after question.” 

Emma Swislow/Courtesy of Stars and Stripes, All Rights Reserved