The Marine Corps would end the drawdown of its end strength from a wartime high of 202,000 active-duty troops in 2009 to 182,000 Marines by October, under the fiscal 2017 budget request DOD released Tuesday.
The Marine Corps would not shrink further after the end of the current fiscal year through FY 2021, according to the blueprint. Its active-duty end strength is about 184,000 currently, reported Marine Corps Times. The Marine Corps’ target end strength would leave about a fifth of the service deployed at any given time.
The branch’s $23.4 billion request includes $6.2 billion for operations and maintenance, and prioritizes training for forward-deployed and soon-to-deploy units, said Rear Adm. William Lescher, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget.
The spending plan would strain the Marines to respond to a major combat operation and other missions they are assigned as the military’s expeditionary response force, Lescher said. Those missions include security cooperation missions across the Pacific, as well as pre-positioning special purpose Marine air-ground task forces in areas such as Africa, Kuwait and Central America, reported Stars and Stripes.