Desperate times: Marines told to ‘save every round’

Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-11 17:54:51-04

by Kevin Liptak (CNN) — United States Marines are being told to preserve ammunition and gasoline as a deal softening the impact of automatic spending cuts continues to elude leaders in Washington.

Marine Corps Commandant James Amos urged personnel in a video posted online Friday to “save every round, every gallon of gas,” and to “take every single aspect or opportunity in training to get the most bang for the buck,” a reminder of the cuts’ immediate effect on the U.S. military.

The Marine Corps and other branches are being forced to cut billions from their budgets as the result of the spending cuts, which were triggered March 1 when Congress and the White House failed to strike a deal reducing the federal debt. In a letter to all Marines dated March 2, Amos said his branch would cut $1.4 billion in 2013 and $2 billion in every ensuing year for nearly a decade.

State-by-state reports produced by the White House indicated the military slashes would be seen in delayed maintenance for military equipment and canceled air shows, along with furloughs for civilian defense personnel. Salaries for enlisted personnel are exempt from the budget cuts.

“This is no time to do business as usual,” Amos said in the video. “Things have changed. The landscape’s changed. We need you to be conservative in the way you do business, I need you to think about conserving our assets, and I need you to become part of the solution as it relates to sacrifice.”

The primary goal of the Marines going forward will be to preserve the corps’ readiness, Amos said, including initiatives to “recapitalize” and “modernize” the institution. But for now, Amos indicated Marine leaders will be focused on “moving money around” and looking at more ways to reduce spending.

“This is going to require all of us to take a different perspective on your piece of the Marine Corps, and it’s going to require all of us to take a look at how we sacrifice for the good of the institution,” he said.

And despite the cuts originating from a stalemate between the White House and lawmakers, Amos described Congress as “our best friends.”

“The Marine Corps exists today because of Congress,” he said, saying in discussions with congressmen and senators it’s clear that lawmakers want to help counteract the automatic spending cuts.

“Everybody’s on this, everybody’s pulling together,” he said.

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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