from the 26th MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit]. They
came up through the Red Sea, the Suez and into the
Mediterranean. They were missing something. The
1,400 Marines that they left in Afghanistan were still on
the ground in Helmand Province. In less than 20 hours
notice, we put three-quarters of an infantry battalion
from Camp Lejeune on airplanes and we flew them to
Souda Bay, Crete. We buy time for our national leaders’
decision-making process. That’s what we bring.
Why does the nation need a Marine Corps? We need
a crisis-response force, one in a high state of readiness,
one that doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. We need
one that doesn’t have to have all the answers before you
get there; you figure it out when you get there. We need
one that comes with its own tool kit so you don’t have
to say, “I’ll be happy to do that, but you’ve got to provide
me these 10 things.” We come with it.
What are the main challenges facing the
Marine Corps today?
AMOS: One is the budget. That’s the absolute near-term
alligator we’re fighting. Just last fall, we began to work on
the force structure, what the Marine Corps would look
like post-Afghanistan. [Then-Defense] Secretary [Robert
M.] Gates challenged us to do that last September and
we’ve done that. We … briefed it to the secretary of the
Navy [Ray Mabus] in January, [and the] secretary of
defense in February. He approved it and that really
reshapes the Marine Corps. We have begun some of the
shaping this year. There are other things we can do in
2011 and some things we can do in ’ 12, but that’s going
to be a significant effort over the next several years.
No. 2 is reorienting, or keeping our focus on
Afghanistan. If you look at my planning guide, our No.
1 priority is Afghanistan. How do we continue to keep
the pressure on the Taliban and keep the spirits up of
our Marines? While we know that President [Hamid]
Karzai has said that in 2014 the U.S. forces would be
out of Afghanistan, we are where we are midway
through 2011. … I think we’re doing quite well in
Afghanistan, but then how do we begin to draw down
and how does that affect the Helmand Province? My
responsibilities in this thing are many-fold, but one of
them is to make sure that I continue to provide everything that is required in order for those young men and
women to succeed in Afghanistan — the Marines and
Sailors who come underneath the Marine Corps.
The third challenge is to markedly increase our resident professional military education. I want to do it
for the enlisted ranks [and] the officer corps, and that
requires not only some reorganization, but also money.
I’ve allocated a pretty fair amount of our budget to do
this, as a down payment, but it’s going to take more.
Here, we’re trying to do something which is significant
and is required for the future security environment,
and we’re in declining resources.
The last [priority] is to take care of our Marines and
Sailors and keep faith with them. I picked that term very
carefully. It’s not a matter of taking care of them, it’s more
than that. It’s everything from going up to Bethesda
[Naval Hospital, Md.] tomorrow afternoon from the
Pentagon [with] probably 20 Purple Hearts. The lion’s
share of those young men will have at least one leg missing. How do you take care of them and their families?
How do you give them hope? That’s keeping faith.
As Marines are withdrawn from Afghanistan,
what needs to be done to reset the force?
AMOS: The first thing is to admit as a nation that there is
a responsibility — primarily through the ground forces,
primarily the Marine Corps and the Army — to take care
of equipment that they’ve had on the ground, in our case,
the equipment we’ve had on the ground there a significant amount of time in a very harsh environment. There’s
a cost to that. You’ve got to say, “OK, now, as a nation, we
have an obligation to help the Marine Corps with their
equipment reset, which means refurbishment of their