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President Obama’s budget cuts have placed the Marine Corps at its breaking point.
This was the summation of Fox News anchor Bret Baier Thursday when he said Marines “are being asked to do more with less,” having the effect of “putting our nation at risk,” according to military analysts.
Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin visited two Marine bases to get an in-depth look.
F-18 Hornets that dropped ordnance in Libya 30 years ago are still being flown today, and the number of hours they were designed to fly have been extended by a third — from 6,000 hours to 8,000.
“Budget cuts that reduced the force to 30,000 fewer Marines and wars that were supposed to end but didn’t are making it harder to patch these old planes together,” she said.
Cannibalizing aircraft to keep other aircraft in the air is taking its toll.
“Imagine taking like a 1995 Cadillac and try to make a Ferrari,” Marine Sgt. Argentry Uebelhoer told Griffin. “You’re trying to make it faster, more efficient, but it’s still an old airframe, so the aircraft is constantly breaking.”
Because the early-model F-18 Hornets the Marines use went out of production in 2001, “sometimes it takes the Marines 18 months to get parts” for them.
“We’re an operational squadron,” Marine Lt. Col. Harry Thomas said of the cannibalization. “We’re supposed to be flying jets, not building them.”
He also indicated that flight training time is down by 50 percent.
The pinch is also being felt by the mechanics, who are leaving the service to seek employment in the private sector.
“Quite honestly, it is coming on the backs of our young Marines,” Marine Lt. Col. Matthew Brown said. “My Marines over there are the ones working 20 to 21 hours a day,” multiplying the likelihood of error.
The story is the same with the Marine helicopter squadrons.
Of the 147 choppers in New River, North Carolina, only 42 are operational.
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