Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Micheal Barrett, the nation's top enlisted Marine, believes his troops have a love for the Corps — not benefits packages.
"Marines don't run around asking about compensation, retirement modernization," Sgt. Maj. Barrett told the Senate Armed Services Committee panel on Wednesday, The Marine Times reported. "That's not on their mind. As I talk to thousands of audiences, they want to know into whose neck do we put a boot next."
The testimony was met with a skeptical eye from members of Congress, as the other branches indicated that curtailed benefits might cause retention or recruitment problems.
Sgt. Maj. Barrett said he believes that such cuts will "raise discipline" because Marines would not be wasteful and warned against the dangers of becoming an "entitlement-based, a health care provider-based Corps" instead of a "war-fighting organization," The Marine Corps Times reported.
"They want to know about what new equipment are we getting, are we continuing to modernize. Just because the budget sucks, does that mean we're not going to get our new gear?" he told the committee.
Many senators said they would adopt a wait-and-see approach; the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission will offer recommendations on overhauling the system in 2015.
"[Marines] don't want an easy life," Sgt. Maj. Barrett said. "They want to be tougher people. They want the pride of belonging, being something bigger than themselves."
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