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Posted: 3/30/2006 9:17:05 AM EDT
April 2006

Marines Struggle to Begin Rebuilding Force in ‘07
By Harold Kennedy



The Marine Corps is requesting a budget of $18.2 billion for 2007, but only a fraction of that will go to buy new equipment, said Lt. Gen. Emerson N. Gardner, deputy commandant for programs and resources. The Corps will need nearly $10 billion in additional funds from two separate 2006 supplemental appropriations—driving the total figure to almost $28 billion—to help the service begin to recover from the Iraq war and reorganize for an extended campaign against terrorism, Gardner told National Defense.

“We’re sustaining a force at war,” he said. “We’re recruiting, training and equipping Marines for the battlefield. That’s job one. We’ve got to have the supplementals to get that done.”

The Marines already have received one bridge supplemental appropriation of $4.1 billion, part of a larger measure that President Bush signed into law in December. A second supplemental request, sent to Capitol Hill in February, contains another $5.7 billion for the Corps.

Both of those supplements are necessary for the Marines to continue operating with the current level of troops and equipment in the coming year, Gardner asserted. The 2007 budget request, by itself, is not sufficient, he added.

Although the $18.2 billion is up slightly from the $17.5 billion the Corps sought in 2006, only $1.4 billion—less than 10 percent—will go to procure new equipment, Gardner explained. Of the total request, 62 percent will be earmarked for uniformed personnel, 22 percent for operations and maintenance, and 4 percent for military construction and family housing.

For this reason, the supplements are essential in paying for repairing and replacing lost or damaged equipment, Gardner said. The February request, for example, seeks $2.9 billion to procure new gear, including $431 million for a variety of radio systems for use in combat operations and $302 million to add armor to ground vehicles in Iraq.

Altogether, this process will cost about $12 billion, and it will take years, Marine Commandant Gen. Michael W. Hagee told reporters. The Corps has asked for $6 billion to get started in 2007.

“That’s about all we can handle during this fiscal year,” Hagee said.

Resetting has become critical because of the wear and tear that Marine equipment is getting in the war, Gardner said. “We’re using equipment at four and five times the rate we had planned on.”

For example, he said, the Corps had expected humvees to last 15 to 20 years. “In Iraq, they have a lifespan of more like four years. Right away, this means we have to buy more vehicles than we expected.” In 2007, the Marines plan to buy 851 humvees at a cost of $72 million.

Also in 2007, the Corps intends to purchase the first 15 expeditionary fighting vehicles at a cost of $188 million, Gardner said. The EFV is the successor to the assault amphibious vehicle, the 30-year-old platform that the Marines use to move troops and equipment from ship to shore while under hostile fire.

Designed primarily to operate close to the sea, the AAVs are being used heavily as armored personnel carriers during combat far inland in Iraq.

The Corps plans to acquire 1,013 EFVs over three decades, he said. Full-rate production, however, has been set back by budget cutbacks. Originally set for 2005, it now is scheduled for 2010.

In addition, the Marines plan use the December supplement to buy 392 seven-ton trucks, called medium tactical vehicle replacements, or MTVRs, at a cost of $87.5 million.

The MTVRs, made by the Oshkosh Truck Corp., are replacing the Corps’ aging fleet of M809 and M939 five-ton trucks. To date, the Marines have fielded 6,393 MTVRs. They have a requirement for another 726 at a cost of $163 million, said Capt. Jay Delarosa, a spokesman for Marine headquarters.

Currently, the Marines have deployed 900 MTVRs to Iraq and Kuwait, Landis said. By May, they plan to have equipped each of them with an MTVR armor system. The MAS, as it is called, transforms the trucks into virtual armored combat vehicles, he said. It uses a high-hard steel and metal composite to protect the crew compartment in 360 degrees, as well as overhead and underbody.

Another Corps priority is replenishing its fleet of aircraft, which also is taking a beating in the war, Hagee said. Thus far, he noted, the Corps has lost four Boeing CH-46E Sea Knight medium-lift assault helicopters in Iraq. In addition, in February, two Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion heavy-lift choppers crashed off the coast of the Horn of Africa, killing 10 crewmembers.

The Corps plans to replace those helicopters with Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, Hagee said.

The rules governing the use of supplemental appropriations will permit the Marines to use some of those funds to buy four MV-22s to replace the lost CH-46s, he noted. Then, in 2007, the Marines intend to buy an additional 14 of the sophisticated but troubled aircraft at a cost of $1.5 billion.

The Osprey takes off and lands like a helicopter and flies like a fixed-wing aircraft. It was chosen in 1995 to replace the CH-46, but it has been dogged by a series of crashes that have killed 30 men over the years.

Marines insist that the aircraft’s design problems have been fixed, and the Defense Department in September 2005 approved the MV-22 for full-rate production. The first MV-22 squadron was scheduled to stand up in March at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.

“The next squadron is already in the works,” Gardner said. “From here on out, we plan to field two squadrons each year. We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

In 2007, the Marines plan to acquire 18 AH-Z Super Cobra attack helicopters and UH-1Y Huey utility helicopters to replace Vietnam-era generations of the same two aircraft, which currently are flying close air support and transporting troops and supplies in Iraq.

The 18 new Cobras and Hueys—which will cost an estimated $447 million—are part of an upgrade program that is intended over time to recapitalize the entire fleet of 180 Cobras and 100 Hueys. The improvements, being implemented by Bell Helicopter Textron, use more than 80 percent of the same parts, including engines, gearboxes, rotor systems and cockpits, to simplify maintenance and reduce the fleet’s logistics footprint.

Also being heavily used in Iraq are the Corps’ KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refueling aircraft, Gardner said. The Marines are acquiring the KC-130Js, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., to replace older versions, some of which date back to 1962.

In Iraq, however, the KC-130Js are busier than ever, Gardner said. “Usually, they fly 40 hours a month,” he noted. “In Iraq, they’re doing 100 hours a month.”

In 2007, the Marines plan to buy four of the KC-130Js at an estimated cost of $299 million.

The reason for the change, officials said, is not only are the older aircraft wearing out, but also the KC-130J is more capable. It can offload 8,455 gallons of fuel, compared to 5,588 gallons for the KC-130F.

The Marines also are taking steps to acquire lighter, more easily transportable artillery, Gardner said. “We’re replacing all of our [M198 155 mm medium towed howitzers],” he said.

“That’s a big part of our concept. We want to be more expeditionary—to move our ground forces more quickly and easily.”

In 2007, the Corps plans to buy 34 lightweight 155 mm howitzers at an estimated cost of $94 million. The LW 155, made by BAE Systems, weighs 9,000 pounds, compared to 16,000 for the quarter-century old M198, making it transportable by MV-22, Gardner said.

Also in 2007, the Marines intend to buy six copies of the Lockheed Martin high mobility artillery rocket system at an estimated cost of $58 million, Gardner said. The HIMARS is a mobile, multiple rocket-launching system that is carried on a five-ton, six-by-six wheeled truck, and it can fit onto a C-130. It can carry a single six-pack of multiple launch rocket systems or one Army tactical missile system.

The Marines have been developing the HIMARS jointly with the Army since 2000. The Leathernecks plan to introduce the system to three artillery batteries in late 2007.

A high priority for the Marines in 2007 will be to provide better body armor for their ground troops, said Capt. Jeff Landis, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Systems Command, at Quantico, Va. “We will field a redesigned outer tactical vest shell that allows Marines to carry their assault load on the vest and incorporates state-of-the-art load-carriage techniques to better distribute weight over the torso,” he explained.

The new OTV will have an improved vest-closure design, a quick-release capability, increased coverage in the lower back, more comfortable integration of small-arms protective inserts and easier routing for radio cables, Landis said.

At the same time, he said, the Corps will continue to field the QuadGard appendage-protection system, which is worn with the OTVs and extends coverage to arms and legs.

In a longer-range project, meanwhile, the Marines’ individual combat equipment program office is continuing development of a next-generation replacement for the Corps’ current lightweight helmet, he added. The new version will integrate full-head, eye and ear protection and improved communications capability.

A major priority for the service in 2007, Gardner said, is to continue building the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, which was established formally in February at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The 2,600 Marines who ultimately will be transferred to MARSOC will fall under the control of SOCOM, but that doesn’t mean the Corps is going to shrink, Hagee said. He plans to keep the number of Marines at its current level, just over 179,000. “I think we’re in a long war, and we’re going to stay at that number,” he said.

The Marine’s regular 2007 budget, however, supports only 175,000 troops, the Corps’ pre-9/11 size. The additional 4,000 are to be funded by supplemental appropriations, as they have been for the past couple of years, Hagee said.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, however, are growing weary of supplemental requests. Relying on such requests “is not responsible budgeting,” Michigan’s Sen. Carl Levin, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told a hearing in February.

“It understates the true cost of our defense program because it does not fully recognize or pay for the cost of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Levin said. Those costs should be included the regular budget, he said. “Honest budgeting requires no less.”

For the immediate future, however, the Marines have no alternative but to continue relying upon supplements, Gardner said. “We will need them on this scale for at least two more years,” he said.

link
Link Posted: 3/30/2006 9:20:36 AM EDT
If the USMC doesn't get this, and a foreign country gets a penny from us, I will be embarrassed as an American.
Link Posted: 3/30/2006 9:48:03 AM EDT

Originally Posted By walrus:
If the USMC doesn't get this, and a foreign country gets a penny from us, I will be embarrassed as an American.



Cut federal aid to New Orleans and we could easily pay for this.
Then cut foreign aid to Israel.
Then cut foreign aid to Egypt.
Then cut foreign aid to Palestine.
Then cut foreign aid to...you get the idea.
Link Posted: 3/30/2006 9:56:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By walrus:
If the USMC doesn't get this, and a foreign country gets a penny from us, I will be embarrassed as an American.





+1
Link Posted: 3/30/2006 10:10:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/30/2006 10:20:31 AM EDT by JPC]
Cut federal aid to New Orleans and we could easily pay for this.
Then cut foreign aid to Israel.
Then cut foreign aid to Egypt.
Then cut foreign aid to Palestine.
Then cut foreign aid to...you get the idea

They shoulda done THAT long time ago!!


SEMPER FIDELIS

When I first got to Parris Island
I thought I'd die
After two weeks
I hoped I die
After eight weeks
I knew I wouldn't die
I'd become too tough
to die
For I'd become a
United States MARINE

sign use too be at 3rd Recuit Bn I CO barracks
outside the chow hall,,every day I read that


Link Posted: 3/30/2006 10:15:20 AM EDT

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:

Cut federal aid to New Orleans and we could easily pay for this.
.



Link Posted: 3/30/2006 10:21:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BozemanMT:

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:

Cut federal aid to New Orleans and we could easily pay for this.
.






And then we would fail to see the return of "Choclate City"
Link Posted: 3/30/2006 10:23:00 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ar15bubba:

Originally Posted By BozemanMT:

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:

Cut federal aid to New Orleans and we could easily pay for this.
.






And then we would fail to see the return of "Choclate City"



“White milk and chocolate city get it right”
Link Posted: 3/30/2006 10:35:39 AM EDT
447 million for 18 helos? What;s up with that? Seems to me that they should be able to get a whole lot more with that kind of money.

-K
Link Posted: 3/30/2006 10:51:39 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/30/2006 10:54:01 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Special-K:
447 million for 18 helos? What;s up with that? Seems to me that they should be able to get a whole lot more with that kind of money.

-K



R&D costs, they are just getting spun up on the UH-1Y and AH-1Z (I think I got those right).
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