The Marine Corps may consider extending some stateside tours from three years to four as the service looks for ways to save money, according to its top officer. Above, housing is seen at Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Lance Cpl. Paul Peterson / Marine Corps)
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The Marine Corps may consider extending some stateside tours from three years to four as the service looks for ways to save money, according to its top officer.
Commandant Gen. Jim Amos floated the idea in an interview with radio station WTOP in Washington but offered few additional details. His spokesman, Lt. Col. Joseph Plenzler, confirmed that the general's comments were accurate but said no additional information was available.
It's not the first time assignments have come up as the Corps wrestles with its portion of the federal government's budget shortfall. Amos said in August that the service could save money by allowing "homesteading," a practice in which some Marines stay in one region for long periods of time. The topic had reached his desk, he said, but he hadn't made any decisions on it.
"I've watched this ebb and flow over my 41 years as a Marine," Amos said Aug. 28 at the National Press Club in Washington. "I've seen commandants come in and say, ‘You're not going to homestead. You're not going to be in a place for more than three years maximum,' and some have said four. I haven't looked at that yet, but as we look at how we live within our means, that probably is something that I'm going to need to look at."
The comments come as the federal government continues to face a steep deficit that has led to cuts in military spending. There's also the threat of even larger cuts if President Obama and members of Congress don't reach a deal on how to stave off sequestration, a series of automatic budget cuts across the federal government that would result in $600 billion being slashed from defense spending over the next 10 years.
Sequestration will go into effect if no other deficit reduction agreements are reached by January.
Amos said Nov. 8 that the U.S. is probably about 18 months or two years into a 10-year period of tight budgets, citing previous postwar drawdowns. That means the Corps will focus on modernizing only where required, he said.
"We're flying now 40-year-old CH-46 helicopters. We have to modernize those," he said, a nod to the Corps' ongoing fielding of the MV-22 Osprey, which will replace the CH-46.
In his interview with WTOP, Amos said the Corps also has slashed its budget for education, training and temporary assigned duty.
"It does cost money to send people [on temporary assigned duty] to conferences," he said. "We've cut our conferences by about 90 percent. Our travel has been cut back easily by about 50 percent."