The Marine Corps' Top Enlisted Leader Believes Lower Pay Will 'Raise Discipline'

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The Marine Corps' top enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, believes the Marine Corps' quality of life is so good right now that if the service cuts back, it would actually raise morale , Leo Shane reports at Marine Times.

"I truly believe it will raise discipline," Barrett said at a Senate Armed Services hearing. "You'll have better spending habits. You won't be so wasteful."

The comments come as Congress mulls a 2% pay raise for all service members, while some defense officials have requested a 1% raise instead.

"In my 33 years, we've never had a better quality of life," Barrett said in the hearing. "We've never had it so good. If we don't get ahold of slowing the growth, we will become an entitlement-based, a health care provider-based Corps, and not a war fighting organization."

The sergeant major, citing his talks with thousands of Marines around the world, told committee members that Marines don't really care about compensation and benefits. Instead, he said, they only want to know who to fight next.

Barrett's comments echoed those from other senior officials in different service branches, but as noted , they only offered personal anecdotes instead of any actual hard data.

A Military Times survey from last year gives some idea however, with quality of life being called "good" or "excellent" by 73% of officers, but only 58% of enlisted members. Roughly 53% of enlisted members also felt they were underpaid.

While troops understand the budget is tightening. and have seen exercises and operations scaled back, getting a smaller paycheck hasn't been welcomed by veterans groups.

"They've taken those concessions," American Legion National Commander Dan Dellinger told "I hate to say it, but the government shouldn't try to balance the budget on the backs of service members. If they took away the entire DoD budget, it still wouldn't balance the budget."

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