OCEANSIDE, CA - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday night that the Marine Corps would be "deeply affected" by the coming cuts in the defense budget. Speaking to a battalion of Marines at Camp Pendleton, Panetta spoke plainly about the need for what he called a "leaner, more efficient Marine Corps."
While politicians in Washington scramble to find ways to cover a massive federal deficit, many have resorted to attacks on the defense budget. In preparation for what seems inevitable, many division and battalion commanders have already pushed down preliminary guidelines.
"This ain't my first rodeo," says Brigadier General Ronald Amos, "I was around during the [President] Carter era, when money was extremely tight. That guy was a serious tightwad."
As the Base Commander of Camp Lejeune, Amos has already clamped down on some of what he's called "money pits." In his last Command & Staff meeting, he laid out guidelines for the coming months. Some things, he said, "we simply cannot afford."
Among events and perks on the chopping block:
Live fire events. Ammo, including blanks, will no longer be allowed. Marines are to aim in, scream "Butter Butter Jam", and then exclaim "I killed you!" when they believe their shot would have probably hit the enemy.
Barracks. Marines will have 30 days to vacate their barracks, and are now required to sleep outside the barracks with their sleeping bag and isomat. Amos believes he can "make a few bucks" renting out the barracks to civilians.
M4/M16 Rifles. While Marines will still be allowed a limited number of M9 service pistols, their coveted rifles are heading to auction. "Marines are warfighters. Why the hell do you need a rifle," he said, "when you've got knife hands?"
Secretary Panetta has warned that the federal budget cannot be balanced "on the back of defense alone," but he added, "we can always give the Marine Corps the green weenie. They're pretty much used to it by now."