WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Gen. James F. Amos became the first flier to head the U.S. Marines when he succeeded Gen. James T. Conway as the Corps' 35th commandant Friday.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates presided at a change-of-command ceremony at the Marine Barracks in Washington, a department release said. He praised Conway's achievements, including establishing the Wounded Warrior program and increasing the size of the Marines in half the time Gates had set.
Gates called the Marines "one of the world's most feared and respected fighting forces. He said Marines have spent the past eight years in ground combat and counterinsurgency instead of their historic role as a partner of the Navy.
"They need to preserve both their maritime soul and the hard-won counterinsurgency skills they've developed during this past decade," Gates said. "Doing this will demand an intellectual capacity similar to that of Marine Corps forebears who developed novel amphibious warfare concepts in the years leading up to World War II."
Amos commanded the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which was based in Kuwait in 2003 and 2004. He has been assistant commandant of the Marines since 2008.