DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
U.S. Marines use Humvees and a Cougar-H Mine Resistant
Ambush Protected vehicle to provide security in the desert
southwest of Lake Habbaniyah, Iraq, July 9 during Operation
Bonneville Flats. The Expanded Capability Humvee is among
the Marine Corps’ top unfunded budget priorities.
For ongoing operations and maintenance, House
authorizers would provide the Marine Corps with $5.7
billion, just over the $5.6 billion requested by the service. Additionally, the bill would provide $1.1 billion to
the Navy and Marine Corps for ammunition procurement, in line with the request.
With regard to procurement, the Corps had requested $1.5 billion, $1.3 of which was authorized by the
House. An additional $1 billion would be available to
the Navy and Marine Corps for procurement associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation
And while the Marines appeared to get most of what
they wanted from the authorization bill, some concerns
were raised about several key programs.
House authorizers questioned the need for noncombatant ships such as the LHA-R amphibious
assault ships and Mobile Landing Platform to be part
of the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future), the
backbone of the Corps’ future sea basing efforts. The
service sees sea basing as critical to future expeditionary operations.
One item receiving a significant cut is the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV). The Marine Corps had
requested $316 million for it, but only $275.9 million was
authorized because the House Armed Services Committee
“is concerned that the current EFV does not provide adequate personnel protection against improvised explosive
devices and mine threats,” according to the published
summary of the authorization bill.
The committee further requested that the Army and
Marine Corps articulate a tactical wheeled vehicle
Without a strategy, the summary says, “it is unclear
how the Army expects to incorporate all these vehicles
into an appropriate vehicle force mix and adequately
program resources in the future. … The committee
believes that the Army and Marine Corps should work
jointly to develop a long-term strategy that incorporates cost reduction, reliability and maintenance
The House Appropriations defense subcommittee
also recommended cuts in the EFV program totaling
$75 million, and $19.4 million in cuts to the Marine
Personnel Carrier program. Appropriators would trim
$115 million from the Marine Corps’ requested procurement amount, allocating a total of almost $1.4 billion.
The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee
markup was released Sept. 10. According to a press
release, the Senate version fully funds 5,000 additional Marines, but would trim $35 million from the EFV
program. It also would fully fund Joint Light Tactical
Vehicle (JLTV) research and development.
The Corps has a list of unfunded priorities valued at
just over $3 billion. Among the top items is a 10th San
Antonio-class amphibious assault ship. The Corps says
the lack of an additional ship will reduce its ability to
have two Marine Expeditionary Brigades’ worth of lift
capability and leave the service below its desired 30
amphibious-ship level to further support naval global
war on terrorism operations.
Another top unfunded item is the Expanded
Capability Humvee, which, “because of delays in JLTV
procurement and current shortfalls, failure to fund
will exacerbate existing light tactical vehicle gap that
continues to grow as other armored HMMWVs reach
the end of economic useful life,” according to the list
The Corps also lists three UH-Y and two AH-1Z helicopters and two additional KC-130J aircraft as unfunded
The likelihood of the House and Senate passing, and
the president signing, a defense bill by the end of the
fiscal year seemed unlikely, which would mean funding
will come from a continuing resolution until an official
budget is passed. It is likely the services, including the
Marine Corps, will be ready for that eventuality.
“The Corps will be planning to operate within the
planned cap for expenditures. From years of experience, they know Congress never passes a budget on
time,” said Dakota Wood, a senior fellow at the Center
for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, based in
Washington. “They’ll have already planned to operate
at the 2008 level, until 2009 appropriations actually
come through. Unless Congress cancels a major program or seriously curtails funding for one, I don’t think
there will be any major issues.” ■