Gen. Robert Neller has not wasted any time since becoming commandant of the Marine Corps on Sept. 24.

Last month, he released his vision for the next four years — a fragmentary order to the planning guidance released in 2015 by his predecessor, Gen. Joseph Dunford. He ordered a full review of the service’s fitness standards and plans to release a revised version of the Marine Corps’ tattoo policy soon. Neller is also looking to develop more effective strategies for combating suicide among current and veteran Marines.

Meanwhile, he is intent on keeping the force ready to deploy and fight wherever and whenever it is asked to do so.

In his first interview with Marine Corps Times as commandant, Neller talked about how he plans to make Marines physically and mentally tougher and what Marines can expect from him as their leader. Though he declined to talk specifics about gender integration issues following a call from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to make Marine boot camp co-ed, he did say the Corps’ plans to set everyone up for success as they move qualified female troops into ground combat roles.

Excerpts of the interview, edited for clarity and space.

Q. You stressed in the FragO that the Marine Corps needs to ensure it’s retaining its most capable leaders. What prompted you to make that a top priority?

A. I think it has always been a priority, but I felt it was important to say it. We have to retain and promote the best people with the right qualities.

We have a very talented force and we want commanders to understand that we have an obligation to talk to our Marines and encourage those we think are most effective to stick around. Everybody has options. I have found that one of the most effective ways to get a Marine to stick around is to ask them.