Members of a U.S. Marine Corps honor guard march to their positions at the Tomb of the Unknowns during a Veterans Day full honor ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 2011.
A smaller Marine Corps may have to shrink even more. The Marines have been thinning their ranks. And now with sequestration cuts in effect, those who joined the Marine Corps hoping for a career are facing an uncertain future.
The Marine Corps is in the process of cutting its force by roughly 20,000 Marines. But now with the reality of sequestration cuts that could continue over the next 10 years, the Marine Corps' top officer says the force may have to downsize even more.
It's an uncertain time for Marines and their families. "They're not letting people reenlist, so we're not sure if they're going to kick us out or not.”, said Silvia Jasso, whose husband has been in for eight years.
The top Marine Officer recently told members of Congress that the Corps' greatest asset is the individual Marine. But over the past year, they’ve been on course to drop from 202,100 Marines to 182,100 by 2016. Now, with sequestration cuts in effect, the Marine Corps is reviewing options that could mean an even smaller force. The Commandant of the Marine Corps recently told Congress that even the target 182,100 Marines is no longer sustainable if sequestration is kept in place.
Retired Master Sergeant Kevin Adkins says this is a challenging time for everyone who wants to make the Marine Corps a career.
“Everybody should be more attentive to what's making them more competitive to retention and promotion. If they're not paying attention to that, they're going to be seeking employment elsewhere," Adkins said.
The Marine Corps says they expect to be halfway to their goal of cutting 20,000 Marines by the end of this fiscal year. One of the ways they've been doing that is by bringing in fewer new Marines. Their review of a potential further reduction is expected to conclude in May and assumes the sequestration cuts remain in effect over the next 10 years.