In relation to the present national fiscal/economic climate where the Navy finds themselves over manned, the Commandant of the US Marines, Gen. James Amos is not going to see his Marines get "flanked" going into the post Afghanistan era.
While this may take sometime before we reach a period when the USMC is not involved in Afghanistan, General Amos is already planning the future of the USMC and it is based around the Pacific.
The author states a good case for why this makes sense:
" In meetings with Marines, Gen. Amos said it was his intent, post-Afghanistan, to return the Corps to its mission as a crisis-response force in the Pacific. The commandant envisions keeping about 20,000 Marines stationed at Pacific Ocean bases, plus another 3,000 at an air station in Japan. About 5,000 Marines are based in Hawaii, tens of thousands more in California."
With the Pacific basin becoming of more interest to the growing economy of China and the other nations that are starting squabbling about who controls what, the USMC will be a much needed stabilizing presence. I can think of no better way to win tactically than to anticipate the moves of your adversaries than to approach it like a game of chess, where you must always be three moves ahead.
SEMPER FI General Amos. Damn the politicians, full speed ahead. I'll trust the General and his warriors in the USMC long before I trust any "former Community Organizer" and his minions to decide what is best when it comes to the defense of our nation and the role our US Marines should play in it.
Marines Aim to Avoid Postwar Identity Crisis
The service's top officer plots a post-Afghanistan focus in the Pacific region, where Marines experienced their most devastating losses and most heroic victories.
By NATHAN HODGE - Wall Street Journal
The U.S. Marine Corps, one of the most storied military forces, is searching for a mission after the war in Afghanistan ends.
Marines consider themselves a quick-reaction force, traveling light and giving their all whether waging war or responding to humanitarian disasters. But for the past decade, the Corps has been fighting long conflicts in the deserts of Iraq and valleys of Afghanistan, requiring it to behave more as a dug-in land army.
With President Barack Obama's announcement this past week that he would begin drawing down troops in Afghanistan, the Corps sees the need to find a new calling.
Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, the service's top officer, sees renewal in the region where Marines experienced their most devastating losses and most heroic victories: "We're going to reorient in the Pacific," he said during a recent swing through bases in Japan and South Korea.
The reorientation is in part because of the coming contraction of the defense budget, in part because of the shifting balance of power in the world, and in part because of a historical fear embedded in Marine culture.
Since World War II, the Marines have fretted about being remade into a second land army or, in times of economic contraction, cast aside as extraneous. Soon after enlisting, recruits are taught of great Corps victories—at Guadalcanal and Fallujah—its most devastating casualties—at Iwo Jima—and the story that President Truman tried to eliminate the Corps altogether.
Though no service commands more respect and fierce loyalty on Capitol Hill (it is impossible to think of Congress ever eliminating the Corps), current Marines note with trepidation that Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last year that they functioned too much like a "second land army" and were too removed from their expeditionary and maritime roots.
The Marines' 20,000 riflemen in Afghanistan won't be coming out soon. Military planners say they don't know which forces will exit first, but defense officials intend to keep combat forces there as long as they can.
Still, with the Pentagon bracing for budget cuts as two wars wind down and the nation wrestles with massive deficits, Gen. Amos aims to be prepared. In months to come, the service branches are likely to find themselves justifying their roles in the fight over a smaller pie, said Todd Harrison, a defense-budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. For the Corps, that means emphasizing what makes it distinct from other services—particularly the Army.
"For the past decade it [the Marine Corps] has been a second land army, so now you hear Gen. Amos talking about its role in the future, and as a crisis-response force," Mr. Harrison said.
In meetings with Marines, Gen. Amos said it was his intent, post-Afghanistan, to return the Corps to its mission as a crisis-response force in the Pacific. The commandant envisions keeping about 20,000 Marines stationed at Pacific Ocean bases, plus another 3,000 at an air station in Japan. About 5,000 Marines are based in Hawaii, tens of thousands more in California.
Shifting back to the Pacific would be in line with U.S. strategic objectives. Military planners note that the region is an economic center of gravity—80% of the world's shipping passes through the geographic area covered by the U.S. Pacific Command—and preserving power in the region is a national-defense priority. "We are a Pacific power and intend to remain a power in the Pacific," Mr. Gates said on a recent visit to Asia.
Returning to the Pacific would keep the Marines busy. Asia is a hub for training exercises with other nations, and Pacific-based Marines have been heavily involved in disaster relief. Over the past seven years, they have responded to more than a dozen regional emergencies, from the Indonesian tsunami in late 2004 and early 2005 to the Japan earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.
On the combat side, they are likely first responders to political crises, such as attacks on embassies, and Marines also rehearse for possible renewed conflict on the Korean peninsula.
Gen. Amos's Pacific focus also appears to be a pre-emptive strike in looming budget battles. The White House recently set a $400 billion target for security-spending cuts over the next decade or so, and the Defense Department is reviewing spending priorities top-to-bottom.
The Marines have already responded to budget pressures with plans to downsize to 186,800 personnel from 202,000 in the next few years. And in January, Mr. Gates canceled the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, which had been a top procurement priority.
According to Gen. Amos, the Marines have particular advantages when it comes to projecting U.S. power: "We step very lightly, and, if invited, we come with a lot of our own stuff," he said in an interview.
On a recent visit to Camp Hansen in Japan, on Okinawa, Gen. Amos stood on the bed of a seven-ton truck and told more than 1,000 Marines that they could expect to remain in the Pacific.
"Marines, this is our home," he said. "We fought, lived, and bled, and died, on just about every island in the Pacific. If there's one service that understands the islands, it's us. We've been here for over 60 years. And we have no intention of leaving the Pacific."
—Julian E. Barnes contributed to this article.