A prominent Republican senator is warning that Marine recruit training which is a longtime tradition in San Diego could soon be shipping out.
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For recruits arriving from places west of the Mississippi River, the path to becoming a Marine begins and ends at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, the 93-year-old home for training recruits and recruiters. The other Marine training site is at MCRD Parris Island, S.C.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is a member of the Armed Services Committee, recently told a group of constituents the Marine Corps will soon have to consolidate and choose between Parris Island and MCRD.
In January, if a congressional committee cannot agree on deficit-healing cuts, the Pentagon will be stripped of hundreds of billions of dollars in funding, which is about 8 percent of the budget.
"There are going to be some extremely tough choices," said Rep. Duncan D. Hunter.
Hunter said the cuts could hurt some critical needs. When asked if MCRD could be on the chopping block, Hunter answered, "No, not right now
The Marines haven't said anything about this."
Hunter said it makes logistical sense to keep both sites open, with two large Marine bases on each coast. This year, about 20,000 recruits will graduate.
"There are over 50,000 family and friends that visit Marines for graduation," said Larry Blumberg, the executive director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council. "They stay in our hotels [and] eat at our restaurants."
10News could not find any specific numbers for MCRD San Diego but an economic impact study done by the military in 2007 for Parris Island put the number at $77 million.
Closing a base would likely mean a long process known as BRAC requiring congressional approval. The other possibility is to keep the bases open and shift most of the resources to one base, which is an end-round to the closure process.
So far, there have been no rumblings that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is considering that option. However, if that scenario plays out, it will mean pain for one community but an economic boon for the other.
Hunter said he will be questioning military leaders about the possibility. More than 2,100 active-duty Marines and civilians work at MCRD.
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