Local Marines Brace for Cuts From Pentagon

More than 600 Marines filled Camp Pendleton’s base theater to learn how the Marine Corps will decide who will stay and who will go

By Lea Sutton
|  Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012  |  Updated 6:26 PM PDT
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U.S. Marines stand at attention at Camp Pendleton, California.

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Major cuts in the defense budget are making their way to San Diego as the Marine Corps prepares to cut the size of its overall force by 20,000 Marines.

On Tuesday, officials from Headquarters Marine Corps were on Camp Pendleton to brief Marines on that drawdown plan.

Anxiety was in the air on base as many Marines braced themselves for how those personnel cuts will affect them.

"We know that the drawdowns are happening, so I think everybody's kind of anxious trying to figure out how that affects them. You know, for their personal life - not only for their own career, but for their families”, said Major Mark Paolicelli, who attended the brief.

More than 600 Marines filled Camp Pendleton’s base theater to learn how the Marine Corps will decide who will stay and who will go.

In January the Pentagon announced plans for budget cuts to save almost $500 billion over the next decade. For the Marine Corps, those cuts focus on personnel. They'll reduce the force from around 200,000 to around 180,000, a ten percent reduction over the next four years.

The Marines say reductions are planned to be gradual and mostly by attrition, but they will also slightly reduce recruiting and promotions.

Corporal Derek Hardy is a helicopter Mechanic with three and a half years in the Marine Corps. He says reductions will improve the Marine Corps because the more dedicated Marines will make the cut.

"I'm anxious you know," he said. "If I'm trying to make it a career and they're making it harder, I just have to work that much harder to stay in. It’s going to be a lot more competitive between my peers."

The plan for drawdown begins in October of this year. Briefers told Marines that it is a merit-based system, and the best way to have job security is to be the best Marine they can be every day.

Lea Sutton covers stories involving San Diego's military community. Send her your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.
Find more of her stories in our special military section.

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