Congressman defends Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. after controversial comments


In the wake of a wave of controversy spurred by comments Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett made at a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing, a congressman who served in the Marine Corps is coming to his defense.

At a hearings of SASC’s subcommittee on personnel last week, Barrett said Marines were more interested in equipment modernization and readiness than they were in benefits and entitlements, and said a lower pay raise and cuts to certain benefits in the coming year would improve their spending discipline.

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett testifies April 9 on Capitol Hill. Listening to his right are Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens and Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler. (Sgt. Marionne T. Mangrum/Marine Corps)

“I truly believe it will raise discipline,” he told the lawmakers. “You’ll have better spending habits. You won’t be so wasteful.”

Barrett later penned a letter to all Marines to clarify his remarks, and sat down for an interview with Marine Corps Times in which he expanded on his viewpoint and said that “nobody wants less,” but that the Marine Corps needed to remain a warfighting organization, rather than an entitlements-based one.

Now, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is also coming to Barrett’s defense.

In a letter send to Barrett today, Hunter called Barrett’s remarks to the subcommittee “candid and straightforward” and said he and other lawmakers would not construe them as an invitation to give the Marine Corps less funding in the future. Read the whole letter below:



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  1. Steve Marinko on

    Hunter like Barrett doesn’t know what he is talking about. Hunter like Barrett is not a Marine he wore a Marine uniform.

  2. sadly, the military is now expected to bear the brunt of political failures buy govt parasites who mismanaged the govt, bankrupted the country and are now unable to control world events as they have no diplomatic skills either. Where is Margaret Thatcher when you need her? Hillary Margaret not even a close call.

  3. Well, I see that Mr. Hunter is as much of a dumbass as Sgt Major Barett. What in the hell is happening to my beloved Corps.? You want to cut something Mr. Hunter, cut your pay, You’re all a bunch of useless do-nothings that try to justify their own lechery and deceit. Fuck it, I’m done with these idiots.

  4. Steve, You cannot simply make that statement to dismiss what they are saying without any consideration. It’s apparent by your comment that you did not even read the Representative’s letter, brief as it is.

    What the Sgt Major said is true: we are a war-fighting organization, not a jobs program. How many times have you heard it said we do more with less? That’s largely the story of the Corps finances. Always has been, always will be. No one is asking the infantryman, or his family, to live on the street.

    At the same time budgets will be shrinking in the near future. This is an undeniable fact as we disengage from over 14 years of armed conflict, the longest sustained period of military engagement we’ve ever known. A large portion of the Corps has only ever known the enlarged budgets that go with such periods.

    As the military, including the Corps, draws down and once again enters peace time tempo everyone will have to learn how to do more with less money. It’s a simple fact of numbers. That’s going to mean fewer shiny new toys, and fewer Marines to use them.

    There’s also the issue of replacing (or upgrading) aging inventories of aircraft and ground vehicles. We need a replacement for the Harrier, and soon, if we want to retain that mission capability. And I could rant all day about how we need to worry about how we’re gonna pay for those, or how someone needs held accountable for ruining the F35 program (beautiful, awesome bird….a clusterf*ck of a bloated, overbudget, behind schedule program…now there’s a “jobs program”…were it me, someone at Lockheed would have been fired years ago).

    The short of it is this: Your comment is disrespectful as hell, completely baseless, and ignorant of the facts. In short: it’s bullsh*t. You didn’t even read or honestly listen to either man.

  5. So sad to see a person who wears the Marine Corps uniform so out of touch with Marines. Who in the hell appointed this person as a Sergeant Major and for that fact Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps? After 21 years in the Corps I have now heard and seen it all — RETIRE and go watch. I watched Marines who were eligible for Welfare and Wick programs. Find a balance between mission readiness and family needs or is that beyond your GT?

  6. Say’s the man, (Hunter) who gets health care and Congressional benefits for life. The most useless Congress and Senate in history, has no problem putting our service men and women in harm’s way. These “leader’s” refuse to address and take care of those who endure the worst. These “leader’s made the shit sammich and want to thank them for it. I am truly ashamed. God Bless and thank you from the bottom of my heart, to all the service men and women and they’re families. You deserve so much better from the very people you protect. So to Captain Blue Falcon (Barett) and Wonder Boy (Hunter) Go Off Some Fuck’s!

  7. I didn’t join for the pay and benefiets, but I can’t lie and say I completly agree. I don’t agree with a pay raise or cut. Service men/women already have enough money problems whether living on or off base. I know plenty of Marines who for some reason can’t wrap it around their brain housing group that you have to live with in your means. That being said how will a pay cut instill that discipline when they already are incapable of doing so. As far as better gear and equipment goes…we get the hand-me downs, we do more with less, and that is something I’m proud to say we can do. If we want new things then we have plenty of equipment that we don’t need anymore with the draw down. I’m sure other countries would buy that equipment from us. So instead of being so hasty to do something like a pay cut which will in turn decrease morale amongst the ranks(personally I don’t care). Why not analyze and identify what it is we don’t need anymore, sell it, and then in turn use that money to get the new equipment.

  8. If the pay of all Marines are cut then Cut sgtmjr Barretts pay in half and cut all congressman’s pay in half also. A Marine pic’s pay is bare bones now as it is. If you would stop and look at it for more than 2 seconds you would see that it is less than minimum wage. Cut all Marines pay enlisted and officer.

  9. Being a prior marine, losing a son in battle, it saddens me to think that reducing the pay of our military further will result in a more disciplined force. Obviously the higher echelon, both enlisted and officers have not a clue as to what is needed for a military member to support their young families. Yes they sign an oath to protect this country and perform the duties called upon them including up to giving their life, but they do this with no hesitation, thinking that their superiors and elected officials will support them on the home front. It is a very sad time indeed. I have seen what the Marine Corps and the elected officials have done once a marine is killed in action.

    A Saddened Gold Star father

  10. Sgt Phil Krein on

    I urge all of you that are complaining about SgtMaj Barrett’s remarks to actually go back and read the transcripts from the hearing. I agree with what he says. Have the pay and benefit increases been nice? Absolutely. However, war is coming to a close and belts need to get tightened. I would be much more upset if I was deploying to the next combat zone with gear that was obsolete before I joined. I absolutely did not join to get paid, there’s a hundred other routes I could have gone if that was my intention. Myself and the Marines that I have served with joined to go to war and fight for our country. I did exactly what I joined to do and am proud of that fact. I stayed in because I love the job and the people. I’m confident that the Marine Corps will fairly compensate me as long as I work my butt off to make the the Marine Corps better than the way I found it. If any Marine reading this joined for the pay and benefits than you need to get up and get the hell out.

  11. why . …., why would ANY member of the Marines or any other military service advocate holding or reducing pay for modernization of fighting equipment when Congress and Senate representives spend money like its running freely, and look at the MILLIONS spent by the President and his family going on countless vacations and golf outings. NO Sgt. Major, you are wrong to even thnk of doing such a thing when a young MArines family has to go on food stamps just to survive. You may not need your pay so serve for free if that’s your choice. Don’t burden those fighting Marines and their families with such stupid remarks.

  12. The feelings of my husband (30 year Marine Corps veteran, officer – pilot) have been amply represented in the comments above.

    It is entirely possible that Hunter’s views reflect old-school beliefs in general. Getting into the 21st Century – Hunter and his hopelessly antiquated staff need to get a clue that in the proper syntax of credible media communication, for many years, with the onset of digitization and since leaving behind manual typewriters, 2 spaces after terminal punctuation is SO 20th century antiquated! Single space please –

    From the most current general-accepted Style Guide:

    “…use one space after terminal punctuation.”

    It may appear to be a small detail … but it also may reflective, unfortunately, of a Congressman and staff who are not living in a world of current reality.

    ~N Wagner

  13. Richard Celaya on

    The SgtMaj needs to take off the uniform and join his politician friends. He is no longer needed in the Marine Corps, he is trying to act like a politician while still in uniform. Please retire Mr Barrett, thank you for your service. We need someone who will look out for the needs of our Marines. Selfish is all I can say at this time. Take this jackass Mr Hunter with you.

  14. Matthew Woolfolk on

    I have to agree with what was said, the Marine Corps is a fighting unit, standing ready for anything when needed.

    Semper FI 2/7 03-07

  15. Richard R. Lovato on

    I joined the USMC in 1972 and my pay was $281.00 a month for the rank of E-1!!! i certainly did NOT enlist in the USMC for the lucrative life style and money, part of my motivation was for love of country and pride of serving with the best !! I don’t feel that a Congressman and a Sgt. Major’s opinion should be reflective of the pay and benefits that young Marines need to support a family or themselves. Obviously the congressman and the Sgt. Major are not in touch with the real world!! QUIT PLAYING POLITICS WITH THE MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM AND LOOK OUT FOR THEIR WELL-BEING!!

  16. Let the man who does the bleeding also do the eating. I am not an American, but in my own country I was a Marine. In the field, it was our tradition to see to it the soldiers ate first and the officers and in-depth support crews got what was left. Let it be so.

  17. David Brahms on

    Whatever the inherent wisdom of Representative Hunter’s remarks, an ad hominem attack upon him doesn’t advance the debate. Hunter is a damn fine Marine who earned his stripes as a combat Marine. Savaging our brothers and sisters doesn’t advance the cause. We are once again in a fight for the life of our Corps. Time for all of us to rally together to save it. That has been the strength of our “tribe” over history. Let’s not abandon it in this perilous time.

  18. I find most of these comments amusing, A bunch of armchair quarterbacks that think they have all the answers. SgtMaj is in no way out of touch with his fellow Marines. Im sure the well being and preparedness is one of the main concern. Beside his outstanding dedication and accomplishments in his career he is dedicated to providing his Marines with the most advanced equipment available. As far as being in anyones pocket, its quite obvious you have no idea who the hell your talking about. Lastly for the dumb ass that asked who the hell appointed Barrett that would be General Amos and he did it with good reason maybe you could ask him sometime.

  19. Peter Devereau on

    SMMC’s use of conservative political phrases to a shrinking Marine Corps where good Marines are worried they’ll lose doing what they love due to congressional and military budget mismanagement is what got him into trouble.

    What made his situation even worse was his writing they need to concentrate on what’s really important which implied the Corps rather than their Families. If you’re afraid of losing your career and your Family has proven their loyalty when you’re questioning whether the Corps is loyal or not only added insult to injury.

    SMMC should have chosen his wording a lot more wisely and no one can find fault for Marines and their Families holding him to the same high standard of accountability SMMC holds all of them too.

    Leadership is always from the front.

  20. BS. Rep Hunter can try, but he can’t undo the total failure of integrity in the SMMC’s remarks. You have one job – advise the Commandant on enlisted issues. It is NEVER your roll to kiss ass and curry favor by saying “sure Sir – let ’em plow our folks in the kiester”. Your role is to remind officers (and NCA) that their word means something – otherwise they would not need NCO’s at all, would they? Retire now. Your usefulness is long gone.

  21. The SMMC is wrong and Rep Hunter is just stupid for backing him on this issue. The SMMC has forgot what it’s like to be a over worked and under paid Lcpl. It’s easy for SMCM to run his mouth about pay when he makes so much money. He should try to live on the pay of a Lcpl.

  22. I was a marine from 1976 to 1980 – all peace time, so maybe I don’t get to have an opinion – but I have to say that if anyone is going to cram a bunch of corporate bullshit down the throats of the ranks, it should be a junior officer, not a senior enlisted. When we went to the field, E-1’s ate first. Apparently Washington agrees with SMMC a bit too much.

  23. Thomas Huettemann on

    As a 33 year Marine Veteran I’m appauled by Barrett’s comments. To make an overarching comment that “Marines were more interested in equipment modernization and readiness than they were in benefits and entitlements” is irresponsible and out of touch. SgtMaj Barrett get your head on straight and get out of your office and talk to your Marines one to one. You’ll be amazed at what you fine.

    Colonel Thomas Huettemann, USMC (Ret)

  24. Our current CJCS and our Senior Enlisted Leaders are all politicians and not leaders. The SGTMAJ’s remarks highlight how out of touch these “Managers” really are. Gentlemen, the military is not a business and the men and women under your purview should not be treated as pawns. Obviously the lobbyists and Defense Contractors have you in many in Congress in their pockets. Take of your people and they will take care of you!! Sound familiar???

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