On this day in 1775, the United States Marine Corps was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Within weeks of its formation, the Marine Corps had already seen combat action, having conducted a raid on the British-held Fort Nassau in the Bahamas. Throughout its renowned and celebrated history, the Marine Corps has fought to protect American citizens and interests worldwide.
Marines have fought admirably since their inception to recent engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Marine Corps has participated in some of the most historically significant battles in American history, including Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Inchon, Chosin Reservoir, and Khe Sanh.
The Marine Corps prides itself on its readiness and ability to respond rapidly to military threats, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises around the world “in the air, on land, and sea.”
However, recent years’ budget cuts have put increasing strain on the Marine Corps ability to meet operational requirements, with its current end strength of 184,100 personnel.
The Marine Corps measures its warfighting capability in terms of infantry battalions and it currently fields 23 battalions. The current strength of the Corps falls short of the 36 infantry battalions advocated for in The Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength.
These budget cuts have delayed much needed modernization and replacement programs for aging weapons platforms, like the Amphibious Assault Vehicle and the Light Armored Vehicle. Overall, the combination of budget cuts and high operational tempos in recent years have strained the Marine Corps.
Although the Bipartisan Budget Act increases Department of Defense funding from sequester levels, it also raises entitlement spending, suspends the debt ceiling, and cuts $5 billion in defense spending from the original version of the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, with over half of these cuts affecting modernization programs.
In order to allow the Marine Corps to execute its mission, President Obama should support efforts to improve its capabilities and readiness so that our Marines can continue to be the “first to fight.”
President Ronald Reagan opined in 1983 that, “Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don’t have that problem.”
Thank you to all the men and women who have served or are currently serving our nation in the Marine Corps and rest of our Armed Forces for your selfless service and sacrifice.