Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Marine Corps May Have to Shrink to Afford Modernization, Readiness Goals....back to 150K Marines, cuts probable to the JLTV, CH-53K and Recon Vehicle...

via USNI News.
“Among the most significant challenges I will face as the Commandant if confirmed will be to sustain readiness at high levels for our operating forces while concurrently modernizing the force – under constrained resource limits,” Berger wrote in response to policy questions from the committee.
“We will need to conduct a deliberate redesign of the force to meet the needs of the future operating environment. We will also need to divest of our legacy equipment and legacy programs and also consider potential end strength reductions in order to invest in equipment modernization and necessary training upgrades.”


Most recently, the Marine Corps has seen slight growth in its end strength to 186,100 to grow its cyber and information Marines. The current force will again grow slightly through Fiscal Year 2021 to 186,400 to support Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) increases that U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) requested.

That growth trend could reverse, though, if hard choices have to be made to keep the Marine Corps within its budget constraints.

“The NDS focuses heavily on modernization, and modernization comes with a significant price tag. If confirmed, I will work with Congress to communicate the investments the Marine Corps is making and the purpose of those investments,” Berger wrote. The service is currently buying F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters in its aviation portfolio and the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) in its ground portfolio, among others.
Story here.

Wow.  This is why a good memory is needed when dealing with defense issues.  Remember a while ago when the idea of shrinking the Marine Corps down to 150K was floated?  Well expect that to come ROARING back.

Additionally with the Army cutting its buy of the JLTV, that's another no brainer.  The USMC will face increased cost because of the production number falling and that alone would lead to increased cost.  With budget reality becoming fashionable again then we can expect to see that number plummet.  Expect the Humvee to continue service into the foreseeable future.

The CH-53K buy of 200 has already been spot lighted by the GAO.  We're buying about an extra 50 in comparison to the CH-53E and according to the bean counters we didn't justify the increased buy. With that helicopter coming in at 100mil per you can expect that to be low hanging fruit too.

The rest?  I have no idea but I do have thoughts.

Treat Cyber like we do Medical.  Farm it out to the Navy and if we need folks in the field then let them be attached like we do Corpsmen.

The LAV replacement, the Amphibious Recon Vehicle?  Let that system rest.  Do a spiral upgrade of the LAV-A2.  Replace the gun with at least a 30mm and better yet trial the 50mm turret from the General Dynamics Next Gen Combat Vehicle (along with sensors) on it...should fit!

The big bear in the room is Aviation and manpower.  That's where alot of it resides.  Has anyone considered what the proper size of Marine Aviation should be?

Has anyone considered whether the roles assumed are the roles that NEED to be part of Marine Air's playlist?

Finally someone has to be the bastard and it might as well be me.  SOCOM is making too big a demand on the Marine Corps.  Supporting 3 Special Ops Battalions is just too much.  If this is to be an enduring requirement then it would be better to downsize it to ONE battalion with support elements and call it a day.

Don't throw rocks.  Tell me your thoughts!

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