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Corps looks to Pacific, drawdown in Afghanistan

By Lance Cpl. Daniel A. Wetzel | | November 20, 2011

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With the current budget crisis, all branches of the military are looking for ways to cut spending. The downsizing of service members from Afghanistan in the near future have some people concerned about future troop placement.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos spoke at a conference in Arlington Va., Nov. 18 where he said the Corps is getting back to it’s amphibious roots and stewarding the nation’s trust as the Corps repositions Marines from the Middle East to the Pacific.

“Our goal as we come out of Afghanistan is to reorient to the Pacific,” Amos said. “I’m very excited about Australia. That will be good for the nation as that part of the world is not threatening, but significant.”

The Corps’ Amphibious force mission includes maintaining freedom of movement for sea trade, providing operational reach and increased agility. This will help keep waters safe and give time to diplomatic leaders during a crisis.

“The world’s issues do not always have a clear answer,” Amos said. “Our forward deployment gives the nation time to make a decision.”

At any given moment there are 23,000 ships traversing the ocean. Many of these ships account for 95 percent of the world’s commerce.

These decisions could require quick action from Marines Amos said.

“When we respond from a forward posture, our response time is almost immediate,” Amos stated at a conference earlier this year. “The goal of our engagement activities is to minimize the conditions for conflict and enable host nation forces to effectively address instability as it occurs.”

The 82nd Congress directed the Corps as the force intended to be “the most ready when the Nation is least ready.” This burden of readiness is what Marines were and are trained to achieve.

“This expectation exists because of the costly lessons our nation learned during the Korean War,” Amos said. “A lack of preparedness in the beginning stages of conflict very nearly resulted in defeat.”

Since then, Marines have set the standard for crisis response. From a sea bound operation in the Mediterranean earlier this year, Marine forces rescued a downed Air Force pilot in Libya within 90 minutes of being notified.

Likewise, within 20 hours of orders, forward deployed Marines arrived in Japan and began humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions after a tsunami devastated the country March 11.

Over the past year, Marine Corps amphibious forces have conducted humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in Pakistan: supported combat operations in Afghanistan with ground forces and air support; and responded to piracy on container ship MV Magellan Star. Then they also supported operations in Libya and assisted our allies in the Philippines and Japan.

“We possess the finesse, the training and tools to knock at the front door diplomatically, pick the lock skillfully or kick it in violently,” Amos said.

Even with drawbacks in finances and manpower, Amos said the Corps will continue to do what America wants by being the expeditionary force in readiness; self-sufficient and ready for everything.

“There are three financial levers I can influence,” Amos said. “Manpower, equipment, and operations and maintenance.”

The Marine Corps has already planned on reducing the number of troops from 202,000 to 186,800.,however, because of further budget cuts in the Department of Defense, Amos said that number would probably decrease.

In an address to Congress Nov. 2, Amos said the Corps will consistently examine and streamline its needs to meet the nation’s fiscal challenges and told them how America’s investment in the Marine Corps is beneficial to the nation and the world.

“As our nation draws down there’s a real level of risk,” Amos said. “The world’s not getting nicer.”

And as troops are being reduced it also reduces the military’s capacity to do things everywhere and be ready for everything, Amos said. But, for a comparably small financial investment, the Corps continues to provide protection the nation needs in an increasingly uncertain world.

“The Marine Corps will continue to be our nation’s risk mitigation force,” Amos said


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