This morning at a Brookings Institution event, General James F. Amos, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps., outlined the problems with the sequestration budget cuts the Marines have faced. Overall, the Marines will face a lack of preparedness due to diminishing funds for training programs.
“I pulled money out of almost every account I can to maintain readiness for this year,” Amos said.
As forces pull out of Afghanistan, many Americans have come to believe that the serious conflict is over.
“We have every reason to be confident that we will complete the mission in Afghanistan. We’re done with offensive combat,” Amos remarked. However, he warned about the rising threats in other areas of the globe. “I don’t see any indication that the world will become more peaceful.”
Amos cited the example of the Syrian war to illustrate his point. In addition, he mentioned Kim Jong Un’s munerous threats to begin nuclear attacks on the U.S.
He also made the important point that just because Americans may think U.S. intervention is over in a certain area doesn’t mean that foreign power is done dealing with the U.S. Though he does not foresee major theater war over the next two decades, the commandant is wary of rising conflict in other areas, including Syria and North Korea.
“If the international community doesn’t discuss these threats, we may find them in Washington, D.C. We may find them in New York. We may find them in cities around the world,” Amos warned.
Though there haven’t been any major, visible effects of the budget cuts, Amos believes that they will begin to manifest in the near future.
“I predict as we go into January, a bit less than half of my combat units will be less than 50 percent combat ready,” Amos said.
The most significant analogy Amos made was that of the U.S. currently being in a similar state to the post-World War II period. With the end of the Second World War in 1945, many Americans thought that major theater war was over. However, this was far from the truth given the start of the Korean War only five years later and the increasing Soviet threat.
“I would argue that when we went to Korea our lack of preparedness really cost us in the early phases of the war,” Amos commented.
This lack of preparedness is exactly what the United States should be avoiding, but the sequestration leaves the Marines with no choice.
“The United States is, if not the sole superpower, the most significant superpower around the world,” Amos said. “We do have responsibilities.”
Though Americans will differ to endless varying degrees on how stretched the United States should exercise across the globe, the lesson to be taken from the commandant is that no matter how much we want to extricate ourselves from conflict with other powers, those other powers may have no intention of extricating themselves from conflict with us.