Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Gen. Dunford responds: I AM getting real

Here is a note from General Joseph Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, responding to my post Friday saying I was worried by how the Marine Corps is handling the budget implosion. — “Tom: I believe your recommendation that we simply announce that we are cutting the Corps to 150K misses the mark. ...

546106_111212_GenDunford_HighRes2.jpg
546106_111212_GenDunford_HighRes2.jpg

Here is a note from General Joseph Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, responding to my post Friday saying I was worried by how the Marine Corps is handling the budget implosion.

--

"Tom: I believe your recommendation that we simply announce that we are cutting the Corps to 150K misses the mark. Frankly, it doesn't make any sense. What analysis supports 150K? As I very carefully explained in my presentation, the responsibility of Marine Corps leadership is to recommend an organizational construct for the Corps that supports our National Security Strategy in the context of the future security environment. After rigorous analysis, that's exactly what we have done. I can assure you that we're fully prepared to refine our recommendations as refinements are made to our strategy/budget. While you are "bothered" by the way we have attacked the issue, we have attacked it the only way we know how. We have done due diligence and told the truth. Another point you may have missed in both my presentation at CSIS and our off the record session at CNAS concerns readiness. I made it very clear that regardless of our future force structure, the Commandant will deliver a capable and ready Corps of Marines to our Nation. That's what we do -- and our track record speaks for itself.

Here is a note from General Joseph Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, responding to my post Friday saying I was worried by how the Marine Corps is handling the budget implosion.

“Tom: I believe your recommendation that we simply announce that we are cutting the Corps to 150K misses the mark. Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense. What analysis supports 150K? As I very carefully explained in my presentation, the responsibility of Marine Corps leadership is to recommend an organizational construct for the Corps that supports our National Security Strategy in the context of the future security environment. After rigorous analysis, that’s exactly what we have done. I can assure you that we’re fully prepared to refine our recommendations as refinements are made to our strategy/budget. While you are “bothered” by the way we have attacked the issue, we have attacked it the only way we know how. We have done due diligence and told the truth. Another point you may have missed in both my presentation at CSIS and our off the record session at CNAS concerns readiness. I made it very clear that regardless of our future force structure, the Commandant will deliver a capable and ready Corps of Marines to our Nation. That’s what we do — and our track record speaks for itself.

Semper Fidelis

Joe Dunford

Tom again: I dunno. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. Not only do I think it unrealistic for the Marine Corps to plan on shrinking to just 186,000, I think the larger question is whether the Marine Corps should focus the discussion on the size of the force or the quality of the force. When asked how big they will be, I think they probably should say, As big as we can be while being a force in readiness.    

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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