WASHINGTON, March 30, 2018 —
During an Atlantic Council “Commanders Series” here yesterday, the Marine Corps commandant discussed the Corps’ plans to have a trained force ready to face any future adversary.
Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller highlighted this year’s budget, which he said will allow the Corps to accelerate their modernization efforts in aviation and increase the number of Marines in the cyber and information warfare sectors.
“Is there enough money there? Yes, I think there is; we stated what our requirement was and congress voted us the money,” Neller said. “So our job now is to spend it wisely to create the capabilities that we need to keep America safe.
The commandant suggested the possibility of changing deployment schedules to allow more time for training. Marines now spend 12 months at home for every six months deployed, and Neller said that could change to 18 months at home for every six months deployed.
“There’s two ways to do that — you either make the force bigger or you decrease the requirements,” the general said. “So we are trying to figure out a way where we can cover down, and where we need to cover down.” The force size is locked in at about 186,000 Marines, he said, so the Corps is looking at changing other requirements.
One possible solution includes working with the Navy to increase the number of maritime force packages and reducing land-based positions, Neller said. “But right now … we are working to make the best and capable Marines we can.”
Neller said that though questions remain about how or whether transgender troops will be allowed to serve, all Marines are expected to maintain the Corps’ standards and requirements.
“And, as long as they do so, until we hear otherwise, they’ll continue to wear this uniform and serve their country.” the commandant said. “I know there’s a lot of litigation going on, and I’m not going to speculate on that. In the meantime, they’re United States Marines and they know how to do their job.”
Neller added that the job of the Marine Corps is to defend the nation, and anything outside of that is of little interest.
“As [former Navy Adm. Dennis C.] Blair said, ‘The service chief’s job, as a service chief, is to provide trained and ready forces to combatant commanders.’ And we’re there to provide those trained and ready forces so that the nation is secure globally, and that’s our lane,” Neller said. “And so, when I go talk to Marines, I remind them, I say “Look, you took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies, foreign and domestic. So do your job.”