Budget Uncertainty Leads to Imbalance, Top Marine Says
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 6, 2014 The current period of fiscal austerity has exacerbated an imbalance across the Marine Corps' budget, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
The military did not set the conditions for the fiscal calamity that it finds itself in, he said, but it is obligated to operate within the budget and the laws passed by Congress.
The general was joined in his testimony by his fellow members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including the Joint Chiefs chairman, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, and the vice chairman, Navy Adm. James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr.
“None of us like where we find ourselves today,” Amos told the committee members. “We spent the greater part of a year restructuring each of our services under the cold reality of a fully sequestered budget. … We've made difficult choices … as we've attempted to build a balanced and combat-ready force. We have restructured and downsized our services to live within our means. We have done all of this knowing full well that the world that we live in is a dangerous one, an international landscape that is simply getting more challenging as each day goes by.”
And, Amos noted, there’s no indication a peace dividend will occur once the mission in Afghanistan wraps up later this year.
“We will not do less with less in the decade to come. We will do the same with less,” he said.
Service members have been compensated appropriately over the past decade of war, the general said. “I make no apologies for that,” he added. “They've deserved every penny that Congress has afforded them.”
While there is much about the compensation reform proposals in the budget request before Congress that he does not like, Amos said, he has no choice but to support them. “I'm stuck with them, because I have raided every other pot of money available to me to pay for a ready Marine Corps,” the general explained.
First and foremost, he said, the service chiefs are responsible for the defense of the nation -- a duty that requires the Marine Corps to maintain a high state of readiness. That can only be accomplished by having combat units that are highly skilled, highly trained and properly equipped, Amos said.
“The most important way that we can keep faith with our men and our women is to send them into combat with the best possible training and the freshest of equipment, and to take care of them then when they come home,” the general said. “My challenge lies in balancing readiness, manpower and modernization, all under the umbrella of sequestration.”
Military pay and benefits have grown to consume 63 percent of the Marine Corps budget, Amos said, while just 8 percent is devoted to modernization and investment.
“At the end of the day, I'm ultimately responsible for taking care of Marines and sailors and our families,” he said. “This includes ensuring our people are well compensated for their service, while also afforded the best training and equipment available to fight and win our nation's battles.”
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