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WASHINGTON – There will be “friction” and “instability,” and the U.S. Marines will “pull back” from some responsibilities if the mandatory budget cuts – signed into law by President Obama under his sequestration process – are carried out, according to the Marine commandant.
Gen. James Amos spoke today at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., on the automatic cuts that were written into the law.
The only way to avoid the cuts is to come up with another deficit-reducing plan and have Congress adopt it, officials said.
Amos, a four-star general, described the global future in a pessimistic light, given the “instability” in Syria, Iran and the Western Pacific.
“We’re not sure what is going to happen with Syria,” he said.
The uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is “creating lots of instability” and agitating tensions in the region with American allies such as Jordan, Israel and Turkey.
With North Korea’s recent successful nuclear tests, the general hopes an emerging China will put pressure on the rogue nation. But he noted China’s regional posture also is creating areas of tension with American allies Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.
He spoke similarly in regard to the future of Iran, where circumstances are “uncertain.”
He said Mali, too, is an example where America must work with its allies, in this case France, to accomplish global objectives.
“We can’t turn our back on these” problems, the general said.
He said America is a leader and it must assume a posture of engagement to eliminate threats and expand friendships to accomplish geopolitical goals.
But al-Qaida has migrated from the east of Africa to Mali and probably other locations.
And perhaps most ominous was the emphasis the general placed on the economic crises in the European Union, the United States, certain nations in Southeast Asia and Japan. He “understands” the dramatic effect austerity and economic regression can have on global stability.
In light of the growing threats and challenges, the general expressed grave concern about sequestration.
“As we retrench from fiscal problems, we will pull back from global responsibilities,” he said.
The general believes the retreat will leave America more vulnerable and said the cuts “would be disastrous.”
“My budget is so small,” the general said. “… If you take money out of the Marine Corps … that proportional cut has a disproportional effect.”
The general said specific rescue operations and humanitarian efforts would be the first to be reduced.
He said Congress should emphasize the Navy for its logistical superiority. And he said rapid response must be enhanced in the military so American answers to global crises can happen “overnight.”
“The United States of America is a global force for good. We actually try to do the right thing and help our allies and be consistent,” he said.
The threat of sequestration is mounting on Congress, which is under growing pressure to reign in spending. If sequestration were to take effect, it would cost the Pentagon $50 billion.
According to Amos, the terms of sequestration would have each branch of the military cut 10 percent of its budget.
Amos is not the only high-ranking military official to warn about the effects of sequestration.
According to the Washington Post, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that sequestration could leave U.S. military “degraded and unready.”
Dempsey said “it would be immoral to use the force unless it’s well-trained, well-led and well-equipped.”