The latest compromise defense bill calls for reduction in the size of the Corps by 5,000 Marines.
The Marine Corps currently has roughly 186,200 Marines in its rank. But the $740.5 billion 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, released Dec. 4, would reduce the authorized active-duty size of the Corps to 181,200.
The compromise bill faces a threatened veto threat from President Donald Trump, over language that would require bases named after Confederate generals to be renamed and the bill’s lack of a repeal of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Despite the large decrease in manpower, no Marine Corps-wide early release programs are expected, Maj. Jordan Cochran a spokesman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs told Marine Corps Times in a phone call.
Though a forcewide early release program is not planned, the Corps is allowing tankers, who saw their military occupational specialty disappear in the force design change, to get out of their contracts a year early.
The massive cut comes as The Heritage Foundation conservative think tank ranked the Corps as only marginally able to fulfill its mission, in a large part because of the small size of the force.
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But more manpower cuts are coming.
The Corps expects to reduce the size of the force by about 12,000 Marines over the next decade as part of Force Design 2030.
The 174,000 future force size would line up with the size of the Corps in 2002.
The troop cutbacks come as the Corps is looking to create a more mobile force, capable of facing off against a near-peer opponent in the littorals.
Berger hopes the money saved from the personnel cuts, partnered with money saved from the Corps axing tanks and reducing the size of squadrons, can be spent on the equipment to make his vision of the Corps come true.