Amos: Marine F-35s May Not Be Exempt from Sequestration

The Marine Corps is steadily drawing down its end strength from a one-time high of 202,000 to a planned 182,000, but more cuts could be coming if sequestration continues, said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos. Speaking to a group of reporters in Washington, D.C., on June 26, Amos said he may have to cut an additional 8,000 marines in a variety of specialties if the across-the-board budget cuts continue into future years. “That’s significant,” noted Amos. While he said it’s too early to offer specifics on any potential reductions, he said “internally there will be infantry battalions and fixed-wing squadrons, which will be F-35s.” Amos also left open the possibility of reducing the Marine Corps’ total F-35 buy if sequestration continues—making him the first senior Pentagon leader to publically vocalize that possibility. In addition, the Corps would be looking at a reduction in F-18 and Harrier squadrons, MV-22s, attack helicopters, and logistics battalions, said Amos. “There will be battalions in there, squadrons, and headquarters,” he said. The Marine Corps’ F-35B is slated to reach initial operational capability in 2015.