In this two-part interview from WEST 2019, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller discusses modernization, readiness and personnel efforts at the service.
The top brass at the Marine Corps wants to know what their troops need to do their jobs better. In a message to personnel, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller asked marines to consider that question. At WEST 2019, Neller told Government Matters that readiness is a top concern for the Marines he’s talked to. “I think in the aggregate, Marines always have to have it in the back of their mind that there’s a war coming,” Neller said. “It could come tonight. As an expeditionary force, we have to be mentally prepared for something that could happen out of the blue in the middle of the night. That’s why we have our Marine Corps, and that’s what the nation expects. [They] expect us to be ready when the nation is least ready, and to be ready for when the black swan comes out of the dark of the night.” In order to achieve that readiness, the Marine Corps is focusing on modernization. Neller says that they have similar modernization priorities as the other branches. “We test, we try to find the best that we can. We follow what the Army does and the Air Force does and work with our Navy shipmates…” Neller told Government Matters. “Whether it be what you wear on your feet or on your body or the rifle you carry or the night-vision goggles all the way up to something as sophisticated as the F-35, All those things are happening” Neller says that he thinks about recruitment in terms of the budget, and that it’s important to have the proper funding before “buying” marines. “We’ve grown our abilities, [in] all of the things we need. I believe, and I believe the force agrees, that we need them for the future fight. And so, if you are going to add a number of marines, you have got to have the money to pay them over the long haul. Not for one year,” Neller told Government Matters. “When you enlist them, they will be there for at least four years. We have the money to buy 186,200 marines this year. We’re not going to have any more marines. I’m not sure what the budget is in three or four years. I don’t want to have to do something and then go backwards.”