Squaring the circle: General James F. Amos on American military strategy in a time of declining resources
A Conversation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff

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Event Summary

According to Commandant James Amos, the Marine Corps’ ability to act as a “shock absorber” is at risk because of mounting defense cuts. In a conversation Thursday morning at AEI, he described how in an increasingly uncertain world, the United States — and the Marine Corps, in particular — has the unique ability to shape the international environment, deter potential aggressors, respond to crises, and serve as a stabilizing force for allies. This presence, however, depends upon having the resources necessary to remain forward deployed and engaged.

General Amos cautioned that today’s mounting defense cuts are coming at the expense of long-term readiness and a healthy force. He explained how the Marine Corps, severely under strength due to postwar defense cuts, scrambled to send Marines into combat in Korea who had not completed even basic training.

Today, sequestration similarly threatens to degrade the Corps’ readiness and risks creating a hollow force. America cannot afford to make the same mistakes again, Amos argued, particularly with the service that functions as the nation’s insurance policy against uncertainty and the unknown. The US and, by extension, the military truly are a “global force for good,” but need adequate military resources to maintain peace and prosperity abroad, he said.

--Charles Morrison

Event Description

The US military is entering a period of widespread and discontinuous change. With forces transitioning out of lead combat roles in the Middle East and rebalancing to the Pacific, along with large-scale budget reductions, the military of the next 10 or 20 years may look very different than the force that has been at war for over a decade.

Many of these changes raise profound questions for the future of the US Marine Corps. In a period of budgetary retrenchment, what is the unique value of an expeditionary force such as the Marines? AEI's Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies will host General James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, for a timely discussion on the future of the Corps. AEI's conversation with General Amos will mark the beginning of a series of four events with the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding the future of their respective military services.

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