Attrition: USMC Loses Battalions And Squadrons


March 22, 2012: Because of budget cuts the U.S. Marine Corps is losing four (of 27) infantry battalions and twelve (of 70) aircraft squadrons over the next five years. About half the marine aviation squadrons operate transport helicopters. Most of the fixed wing squadrons are bombers and fighters.

These cuts will result in jobs for 20,000 marines being eliminated, shrinking the marines to 182,000 personnel. Most of the units lost are from marine bases on the east coast. The Pacific, and China, is seen as the focus of Marine Corps attention in the future.

In effect the marines will lose nine percent of their personnel strength by the end of the decade. The marines want to do that without losing their most experienced and effective people. The idea is to keep officers and NCOs best able to expand the corps in the event of a national emergency, while at the same time maintaining, for as long as possible, a force that has lots of combat experience.

The cuts are going to be felt most by first term marines seeking to reenlist for the first time. Currently, 56 percent of reenlistments are by first term marines. That is going down to 46 percent this year and 39 percent next year. In effect, the first term marines will have to work hardest to stay in. It will also be competitive for NCOs and officers but mid-level NCOs (E5-E7) will be encouraged to stay, as will combat experienced junior officers.

Most of the cuts will be made in the next four years and the marines hope to do it all by adjusting reenlistment standards. In other words, no one is to be forced out before their contract (current term of service) is up. But those who want to stay have to be willing, in some cases, to undergo a career change. Some entire units (combat and support) are being eliminated and there will be more need for people to change their job specialty.



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