Throughout the Corps, anxiety is high as Marines and their families wait to learn how the commandant intends to execute massive force cuts ordered in January by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. And their uneasiness certainly is justified. The reality is that over the next five years, the service will purge some 20,000 from the active-duty force — about as many as it added during the latter part of the last decade to sustain operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This week’s cover story, which was co-reported by Marines Corps Times’ senior staff writers Gina Cavallaro and Dan Lamothe, examines how the drawdown is expected to take shape and what means the service will employ in reducing overall end strength by 3,500-5,000 personnel a year, as the top Marine, Gen. Jim Amos, has forecast. It analyzes future force structure also, and how budget cuts will drive the elimination of units and diminish certain capabilities. As Marine Corps Times first reported last week, officials now are looking beyond last year’s force structure review, which accounts for about 15,000 personnel cuts, with thoughts of axing some light armored reconnaissance assets and an additional infantry battalion while dialing back planned expansion of the Corps’ special operations command.
A companion piece, reported by staff writer James K. Sanborn, looks at the future of the Marine Corps Reserve. Although it’s not targeted for personnel cuts, smaller budgets could influence training deployments in the coming years, according to the Reserve’s three-star commander.
All in all, it’s vital career news for Marines everywhere. The issue is on newsstands now. To read it immediately, subscribe to our digital edition.