Z Congressional Breakfast - Marine Military Expos

2024 Keynote Panel

General Eric M. Smith, Commandant of the Marine Corps

General Smith is currently serving as the 39th Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in Plano, Texas, General Smith graduated from Texas A&M University and was commissioned in 1987. He has commanded at every level, including Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment during Operation Assured Response in Monrovia, Liberia; 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom; and 8th Marine Regiment/ Regimental Combat Team 8 during Operation Enduring Freedom. He also served in Caracas, Venezuela as part of the U.S. Military Group.

As a General Officer, he commanded U.S. Marine Corps Forces Southern Command, 1st Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

General Smith’s staff assignments as a General Officer include serving as the Director of Capability Development Directorate, Combat Development and Integration; Senior Military Assistant to both the Deputy Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Defense; Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration; and the 36th Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Jonathan D. Geithner, Vice President and Director, Marine Corps Program

Jonathan D. Geithner is vice president for CNA’s Marine Corps Program. He is responsible for working collaboratively with senior Marine Corps leaders — at CNA headquarters and, through CNA’s Field Program, at commands worldwide — to develop research programs that address such issues as operations, manpower and training, componency, logistics, programs and resources, aviation, and naval integration.
Mr. Geithner began his career at CNA as an analyst in CNA’s Support Planning and Management Di-vision. He then served as an associate research analyst and deputy project director in the Policy, Strategy, and Forces Division. He also served as a research analyst for CNA’s Naval Operations and Support Team. Prior to being named vice president, Mr. Geithner was a research team leader responsible for developing a program of research focused on expeditionary operations.
During his 25-year career at CNA, Mr. Geithner has served in the field multiple times, as a representative to:
•Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3, CARAT deployment in Southeast Asia •Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF);•Commander, Marine Forces Pacific;•Commander, Marine Forces Central Command while deployed to Bahrain/Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom;•Commander, Marine Forces Reserve;•Commander, Multinational Forces West (MNF-W) while deployed to Anbar Province, Iraq; and Commander, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan (deploying in support of several crises response and humanitarian operations).
Mr. Geithner holds a BA in History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MA in Inter-national Economics and Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC.

LtGen Karsten S. Heckl, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration

Lieutenant General Karsten Heckl currently serves as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration.

A native of Stone Mountain Georgia, Lieutenant General Heckl graduated from Georgia State University and was commissioned in April 1988. He was designated an unrestricted Naval Aviator in September 1990.

Lieutenant General Heckl commanded Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162, which included a combat tour in Iraq in 2008 and Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) in 2010. From June 2018 to July 2020 he served as the Commanding General, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, and subsequently assumed command of I Marine Expeditionary Force through September 2021.

As a CH-46E pilot, Lieutenant General Heckl deployed with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 365 and HMM-263, and served as a CH-46E Instructor and Division Head at MAWTS-1, MCAS Yuma, AZ. Additionally, he was assigned as one of the initial cadre of pilots with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 (VMMT-204).

Staff assignments include CH-46E and MV-22 Requirements Officer, Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) Aviation Department, Washington DC; J3 Director of Operations, United States Forces- Afghanistan (USFOR-A), Kabul, Afghanistan; Senior Military Assistant and Marine Aide to the Secretary of the Navy; Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, HQMC Aviation Department, Washington DC; Chief of Staff, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), Lisbon, Portugal.

Lieutenant General Heckl is a distinguished graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School (AWS) and the Naval War College.

LtGen James H. Adams III, Deputy Commandant For Programs And Resources

Lieutenant General Adams was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1991, designated a Naval Aviator in 1993, and selected to fly the AH-1W Super Cobra. Lieutenant General Adams has extensive operational and tactical experience in the AH-1W, to include deployments aboard amphibious shipping as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit and combat experience from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. As a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, and as a Colonel he commanded Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

His field grade staff assignments include MAG Operations Officer; Strategic Assessments Branch Chief, Programs and Resources, HQMC Programs & Resources; Air/Sea Branch Chief, Force Application FCB, Joint Staff, J-8 Directorate; Aviation Plans, Policies, and Budgets Branch Head, HQMC Aviation; Weapons and Tactics Instructor, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

His General Officer assignments include Capability Development Director, HQMC CD&I and Deputy Director, Requirements and Capability Development, Joint Staff J-8, and his current assignment as the Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources.

Lieutenant General Adams graduated from the Naval Academy with a BS in Computer Science in 1991. He was awarded a Master of Science Degree in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy upon graduation from the Joint Advanced Warfighting School, Norfolk, VA in 2010, and completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program in 2016.

Lieutenant General Adams has flown more than 3,300 hours in the AH-1, including over 300 combat flight hours. His personal decorations  include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal and the Korean Defense Service Medal.

LtGen Edward D. Banta, Deputy Commandant, Installations And Logistics

Lieutenant General Banta was promoted to his current rank on 9 July 2021 and is currently serving as the Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics.

Spending his formative years in California and Connecticut, Lieutenant General Banta graduated from Colgate University in 1986 and was subsequently commissioned through the Officer Candidates Course Program in December 1986. Following his initial training as a Combat Engineer Officer, he has held a variety of billets in the operating forces, supporting establishment, and the joint community.

Lieutenant General Banta’s assignments in the operating forces include Platoon Commander and Company Commander in 9th Engineer Support Battalion, Assistant Operations Officer for 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (Operation Desert Shield), Executive Officer for the I Marine Expeditionary Force Jump Command Post (Operation Desert Storm), Operations Officer and Company Commander for 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, Commanding Officer of Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 (Operation Iraqi Freedom), Operations Officer and Commanding Officer of Marine Wing Support Group 17, and Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations for 3d Marine Logistics Group.

His other assignments include Engineer Officer for the Tactical Exercise Evaluation and Control Group at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms CA, Program Analyst in the Programs and Resources Department at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington DC, Force Structure Analyst in the Force Structure, Resources and Assessment Directorate (J8) on the Joint Staff in Washington DC, and Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy in Washington DC.

As a General Officer, he has served as Commanding General, 2d Marine Logistics Group; Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West/Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton; Chief, Combined Joint Logistics (CJ4), Headquarters Resolute Support – Afghanistan; Assistant Deputy Commandant, Programs and Resources Department, Headquarters Marine Corps; and Commander, Marine Corps Installations Command.

He is a 2006 graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and holds a Master’s Degree in Systems Management from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

2024 Brigadier General James Patrick Sinnot Devereaux Award Recipient


Ian Bennitt, Senior Advisor to the Chairman and Staff Lead for the Seapower & Projections Forces Subcommittee, House Armed Service Committee

Mr. Ian Bennitt serves as the Senior Advisor to the Chairman and Staff Lead for the Seapower & Projections Forces Subcommittee, House Armed Service Committee. Prior to his current role, Mr. Bennitt served as the Staff Lead for the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee. He is a graduate of American University School of Public Affairs, MPA in Maritime Studies.

Mr. Bennitt has been a steadfast advocate of Marine Corps priorities and equities for several years. He has advocated for improved readiness and accountability of Navy ships through legislation. As the Senior Advisor and Staff Lead for the Seapower & Projection Forces Subcommittee, he devoted himself to increasing awareness and understanding of Congressional members on the value of funding and supporting ship maintenance, as well as the need to improve overall ship readiness and operational availability.