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Commandant: USMC Should Shrink to 174,000 Under Sequestration

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Corps Gen. James F. Amos addresses an audience of Marines on July 18, 2013. USMC Photo

Corps Gen. James F. Amos addresses an audience of Marines on July 18, 2013. USMC Photo

U.S. Marine Corps Commandant James Amos made a call Monday to shrink the Marine Corps from a decade high of 202,100 Marines to a force of 174,000 in an editorial published on Monday.

Amos — writing in The Atlantic’s Defense One online news service — said the new number was the bare minimum the Corps would need to conduct its operations.

“We have determined that with sequestered budgets a force design of 174,000 is right sized to allow the Marine Corps to remain America’s crisis response force, Amos wrote.
“Analysis shows that further reductions will incur heightened and, in some scenarios, prohibitive risk to our National Security Strategy, and unacceptable risk to the internal health of our Corps and its families.”

Before the mandatory sequestration budget cuts, the USMC planned to reduce its numbers to 182,100 by 2016, according to a report in Marine Corps Times.

The new number is based on a working group the Corps established in February as part of a Pentagon-wide effort to craft the Department of Defense’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) — the four-year strategic planning document for the U.S. military.

“This effort was informed by the realization that, if faced with a continued sequester, the Marine Corps would have to live with severe budget shortfalls that might well threaten its ability to maintain its edge as the nation’s hedge force,” Amos wrote.
“The bottom line is we are asking more from our Marines today than at almost any other point in our history…a trend that will likely continue and further bound our future.”

The new numbers come as Marines wind down their role in Afghanistan and return to the Corps’ primary mission of an sea-based quick response force.

Amos did not give a timeline for the reduction. Since the announcement of the original planned reductions in 2011, the Corps has been reducing personnel by about 5,000 Marines a year.

  • bkhuna

    I’m all for shrinking the size of our standing military, as long as we eliminate the use of it as a tool for foreign policy.
    Yeah, that’s gonna’ happen.

  • vincedc

    Evidently no one in Congress has connected the dots between higher suicide rates and extra stress caused by the affects of reduced funding.

  • KC135TopBoom

    With all due respect for the Marine Commandant, I strongly disagree with his assessment. The world today is a much more dangerous world than we had in the last decade, which includes the GWOT. Our own political leaders have spent our grandchildren’s future security for votes. The USAF, USN, USMC, US Army, and USCG will have to surrender our long held policy of fighting two wars at the same time. That policy has been effective since the end of WWII, and has served the nation’s security well. Politician’s have claimed the “peace dividend” during the draw down under former President Clinton was good for the nation. It wasn’t. We were attacked on our own soil on 9/11. Our draw down after WWI lead us into WWII just 23 years later. Today we are doing the unthinkable, drawing down the force while we are still engaged in combat. President Obama seems ready to put some units into combat nearly every year, this year it was Syria, two years ago it was Libya, and before that (and still going on), Yemen. Just because we did not have boots on the ground, doesn’t mean we could not do that at the whim of the President. What of the future? Even though we began a build up of our forces and weapons in the late 1930s, we still were caught with our pants down in the Pearl Harbor attack.
    Today’s world is a lot different than those days of WWII. Back them we were fighting other nations with professional Armys, Navys, and Air Forces. Today we are fighting terrorists organizations that hide in the shadows, or behind women and children. But those organizations are supported by nations with radical agendas that rival the terror organization itself. Iran is building nuclear weapons, and who knows what that nut in North Korea will do next. We have friends that constantly stab us in the back, like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others. China and Russia are again in the global conquest game.
    The future is in your hands, General Amos. Your call, sir. Please make it wisely and don’t give in to short term politics.