WASHINGTON – The Marine Corps will remain America’s crisis response force for the foreseeable future, the service’s top officer said August 23.
This covers everything from humanitarian missions to military operations, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos told reporters during a roundtable discussion.
Amos also spoke about what the transition of U.S. strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region means to the Corps.
“The Marine Corps doesn’t have a domain,” he said. “The Navy has the water, the Army has ground and the Air Force has air and space. As I talk to my fellow service chiefs, I tell them, ‘The Marine Corps is not interested in poaching in your domain, but we have a lane that appears as a result of a crisis.”
The attributes the Marine Corps brings are a high-state of readiness, the ability to operate in austere environments and the ability to move quickly from the sea or via air, Amos said. “We appear, we do our nation’s bidding, and then our lane disappears and we cooperate and operate well with our joint partners,” he added.
Some issues that Amos said keep him awake at night are the drawdown in Afghanistan, the pending reduction of the Corps from 202,000 to 182,000 Marines, resetting and reconstituting the force, and the new defense strategy transition.
Part of that strategy calls for 22,000 Marines to be west of the International Date Line. “The agreement is a little over 10,000 Marines on Okinawa,” Amos said. “We’re comfortable with that.”
The number of Marines in Iwakuni, Japan, will grow as C-130s, command and control assets and other units transfer. “Guam right now is looking at probably 4,500 Marines,” he said. “Predominately, those forces will be rotational forces.”
An agreement between the United States and Australia calls for a rotational force of about 2,500 Marines operating out of Darwin, he said. “Our two nations will set the pace on that,” he added. “Right now, we have about 200 Marines, in Darwin and they will come out next month.”
A significant portion of the Marine presence west of the date line will be on amphibious warfare ships, Amos said.
The Marines are interested in building deeper relations with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region including India, Vietnam and Indonesia, Amos said. During a recent trip to the Philippines, he told reporters, he explored expanding Marine exercises with the Philippine armed forces.
Marines currently train in Thailand, Singapore, Korea and other nations. “My hope would be as a service chief that somewhere down the road we have an opportunity to train alongside those nations’ forces,” Amos said.