Commandant Gen. Jim Amos has made two appearances in a room full of reporters over the last week, fielding questions about everything from the war in Afghanistan to the ongoing manpower drawdown in the Marine Corps.
Perhaps more frequently than anything else, one topic came up: What about sequestration?
It’s a tough topic. Anyone following public policy, politics or national security issues in Washington is well aware of the automatic federal budget cuts that are looming if the U.S. government doesn’t find another way to reduce its deficit. They were put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011, a federal statute that calls for $600 billion in budget cuts over 10 years at the Pentagon if no other deficit reduction agreements are reached by January.
There’s only so much a service chief can say on the subject, however. Amos has no power to stop sequestration. He only can say what it will do to his Corps. Over and over and over again, since journalists keep asking the same question.
On Tuesday, Amos said at the National Press Club that although sequestration would result in blanket cuts of about 10 to 11 percent across the Department of Defense in manpower, acquisitions and other accounts, it would be felt more in the Corps.
“Even though it would be proportionately applied to the Marine Corps, the effects would be disproportionate because our numbers are so small and our budget is so small that in some cases it would cause us to end up canceling programs and not being able to reset after 11 years of combat coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan…. Quite honestly, it would stop any kind of modernization. So it’s very, very dangerous.”