Pentagon nixes plan to boost Marine Corps billing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Defense Department said it opposed as potentially divisive a push in Congress to give the Marine Corps equal billing in the Department of the Navy.

A Senate bill would rename it the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.

“A re-designation could be viewed as more than symbolic, and could easily be misinterpreted as a step away from the heritage and tradition of a strong Navy and Marine Corps team, said Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel.

Renaming is “unnecessary, would incur additional expense of several hundred thousand dollars a year over the next several years ... and would not enhance the standing or reputation of the Marine Corps,” he said.

The Navy and Marine Corps, which calls itself “The Few, The Proud,” have functioned as “one team led by one secretary” since Benjamin Stoddert was named the first Navy secretary by President John Adams in 1798, Johnson wrote.

He made his comments in a May 26 letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, whose office released the letter Monday. Levin agrees with the Pentagon and opposes re-designating, said his spokeswoman, Tara Andringa.

Reporting by Jim Wolf, editing by Jackie Frank