Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos recently warned that further defense cuts will paralyze the Marine Corps’s ability to fight. As policymakers in Washington work to provide for the common defense of the nation, they need to bear in mind just how capable the Navy and Marine Corps are dealing with 21st-century challenges.

According to Amos, the world is “more dangerous” today than it was before 9/11. According to the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, America faces five key threats to its long-term national interests:

  1. Radical Islamist extremism and the threat of terrorism,
  2. The rise of new global great powers in Asia,
  3. Continued struggle for power in the Persian Gulf and greater Middle East,
  4. Accelerating global competition for resources, and
  5. Persistent problems from failed or failing states.

Sufficient funding for the Marine Corps is critical for addressing these threats.

However, the military has been cut dramatically over the past few years, even before accounting for sequestration. Making matters worse, no analysis was done to assess the impact these cuts would have on military force structure, readiness, or national security strategy. Additional across-the-board cuts would have devastating effects on the Marines, who after 12 years of war and decades of underinvestment are already in a reduced state of readiness.

The Marine Corps provides a wide array of non-combat services. In 2005, members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force supplied Iraqi villages with humanitarian daily rations. The Marines were among the first responders to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and they provided aid to residents of New York and New Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

While the Marines have typically been the first ones to engage in any U.S. conflict, their mission readiness relies heavily on the Navy’s fleet readiness. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert predicted that sequestration would cut the Navy’s level of readiness by a third.

The long-term strategic benefits of a well-funded Navy and a strong, ready Marine Corps are more relevant now than ever. Cutting defense further will cripple the Marines’ ability to defend against the myriad of threats rising up all over the world. The government should uphold its responsibility to provide for the common defense. The security of the U.S. and its allies depends on it.

Clark Irvine is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.