Cuts to the Royal Marines could be very "damaging" according to senior US military officers.
Colonel Dan Sullivan warned that the relationship between the US Marine Corps (USMC) and its British counterpart would change if the proposed cut of 1,000 Royal Marines and UK's two amphibious assault ships are lost.
During a visit to London to attend a conference on the impact of technology on defence, The Times reporting him saying:
“My message is to articulate how important having that capability in our partner is, and how damaging I think it would be if our most important coalition partner potentially takes the hits that are projected right now.”
Lieutenant-General Jerry Harris of the US Air Force said he was also opposed to the Royal Marines being reduced, but providing the defence budget was not squeezed, the United States would respect Britain's decision.
Speaking to The Times General Harris said: "We are worried about the talk of any reductions but, again, internally each country has to look at the risks the have and make the decisions they need to make."
"Having that war fighting capability is expensive but more expensive is losing the next fight... I think we could do better by spending a little more on our defence."
The Royal Marines have expressed their dismay over potentially decreasing their branch. However, British military chiefs are faced with the challenge of filling a funding hole amounting to £20-£30 billion over the next 10 years.
With calls to increase money dedicated to armed forces in the autumn statement, other options to ease spending include losing HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, cutting the size of the army from 82,000 to 65,000 and easing up on buying fast jets.
Colonel Sullivan works at the Marine Corps Warfighting Labratory in Virginia, which looks at current and future possibilities, he said to The Times:
“From a military standpoint as the UK continues to diminish and as the Royal Marines in particular take a hit, I think that our view of what we will be able to do together in the future changes.”
He described any reduction to the Royal Marine as "a real blow" as their unique capabilities remain relevant today.
“If you want to be decisive you have to be able to project power ashore at some point.”