Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R., Ariz.), said the declining size of active duty Marines will struggle as they confront new threats due to decreases in military spending during a nomination hearing on Thursday Morning.
"The combination of budget cuts, force reductions, and rising demands on our Marines has reduced readiness, lengthened deployments, cut training and time at home with families, and put the Marine Corps under considerable strain,"McCain said. "This madness must stop."
The committee met on Thursday to consider the nomination of Lieutenant General Robert B. Neller to be general and commandant of the Marine Corps. Sen. McCain used his opening statement to criticize the reduction of the number of Marines abroad.
"Over the last few years, the Marine Corps has been cut from 202,000 active duty Marines in 2012, to 184,000 today. Over the next two years, the Marine Corps will fall to 182,000. And if sequestration returns again, we will be left with 174,000 Marines, a force ill-prepared and ill-equipped to respond to a crisis or major contingency."
McCain acknowledged the significant impact the Marines have against threats on a global stage and said their job will be tougher as resources and fighting strength decrease.
"Our nation is counting on the forward presence, strategic agility, power projection, and rapid response that are the Marine Corps’hallmarks," McCain said. "But as we confront the realities of a more dangerous world, drastic reductions in defense spending are forcing our Marines to take on a growing set of missions with fewer and fewer resources."
McCain identified similar issues of troop reduction with incoming Army Cheif of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, during another nomination hearing on Tuesday. Both the U.S. Army and Marines have been impacted by the Obama administrations budget reduction initiatives.
The inability to upgrade equipment and supply a sizable Marine force to combat new threats is due, in part, to the Budget Control Act signed into law in 2011 by President Barack Obama. The law implemented spending caps that were unchangeable as new military conflicts arose. McCain called for a removal of the caps to supply the Marines with necessary resources.
"We must replace the arbitrary spending caps on defense that were imposed under the Budget Control Act of 2011," he said. "That is the only way that we will get back to a truly strategy-driven defense budget."