General: Marine Corps Is the ‘Cheap Force’

Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said today that in the face of a shrinking defense budget, the armed services would not turn against one another and fight for funds.

“The relationship has never been better than it is today,” Amos said of the ties between the Army and the Marine Corps today at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s better than it’s ever been in my 41 years of service.”

Responding to a question about whether there was a whisper campaign begun by the Marines against the other services, he said he had not heard of it, and said the Joint Chiefs of Staff would mediate between the forces.

“If there’s anyone who can keep the tribes together, it’s Marty Dempsey,” Amos said.

However, Amos sold the Marine Corps as the “cheap force,” and said America needed a military “that’s not going to break the bank.”

“You get a lot of bang for your buck,” Amos said of the Marines. “We don’t need fancy hotels or air conditioning.”

Amos said the Marines Corps planned to go down to 186,000 personnel from 202,000 - cuts approved by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He added that he was not sure 186,000 was the floor. For those looking to join the Marines now, he said, there was such a backlog that it would be at least eight months before being sent to boot camp.

He added that there would also be some cuts in ground vehicles, from 40,000 to 30,000.

“I will not ask for anything I want, just things I need,” he said. “What is it that’s good enough to get us through the next eight to 10 years?”

In addition, he said, pay raises and housing, health and retirement benefits would be looked at.

“We’re paid pretty well,” he said. “Is there room to adjust inside? Yeah, I think there is room. We’re going to need to look at that.”