during Iraq and Afghanistan, “potentially place the
Marine Corps and our congressionally mandated role as
the nation’s force in readiness in jeopardy,” it notes.
Flynn and Work said that while a requirement for
38 amphibious ships had been established, the naval
services had agreed that, given the fiscal constraints,
they could accept the risk of 33 amphibs.
That was made more acceptable by decisions to create three enhanced Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons
by adding to each a T-AKE cargo ship, a converted
commercial roll-on, roll-off vessel and the proposed
Mobile Landing Platform, which can facilitate the at-sea transfer of heavy equipment and supplies from the
large ships to craft that can take them ashore.
Those ships, combined, would support an amphibious assault force of two Marine Expeditionary Brigades,
about 30,000 troops and their vehicles and aircraft.
Flynn and Work also said the future would see
Marines aboard a wider range of ships, including the
new Littoral Combat Ships, Joint High-Speed Vessels
and Coast Guard cutters.
Lightening the Corps’ equipment set would require “a
bottom-up evaluation of all systems, from individual
equipment through large principle end items with a spe-
cific focus on making each system smaller, lighter and
more efficient whenever possible,” the MOC says. “The
accumulation of small savings at each level will achieve
our ultimate goal — a lighter and more agile MAGTF that
is able to conduct sustained operations from the sea.”
A major part of weight reduction would depend on
“what technology can give us in terms of protection,”
The MOC suggests that future combat vehicles
“have scalable armor protection appropriate to the
threat and embarked separately from the vehicles.”
Technology also would have to provide lighter body
armor to reduce the load on the individual Marine,
But, he added, “I’m not seeing anything in technol-
ogy over the next five years that’s going to give us a
breakthrough on weight.”
Other ways to reduce the overall MAGTF bulk is
through greater energy efficiency and adoption of alter-
native energy sources, such as solar power and
“onboard power” generation from tactical and logisti-
cal vehicles. Marine experiments have shown consider-
able promise in those areas.
“We can generate the power. The hard part is being
able to store the power. … In many ways, the batteries
have been the limiting factor,” Flynn said.
The Corps also is counting on much wider use of
unmanned systems to add capability and lighten the
load. Experiments have tested unmanned ground vehicles to carry supplies, conduct reconnaissance and
U.S. MARINE CORPS
Cpl. Ben Crain, a mechanic with Company D, 2nd Amphi-
bious Assault Battalion, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-
Afghanistan, sights in with his turret-mounted M-240 medium
machine gun June 18 in preparation for a convoy journey
that night from Kandahar Airfield to Camp Leatherneck in
possibly evacuate casualties, and unpiloted helicopters
to deliver supplies.
The MOC said the future MAGTF’s air combat ele-
ment “may need a light attack platform” that can per-
form multiple missions, “including escort of assault
aircraft, provide resupply and medevac.”
Flynn said that could be an unmanned air system
that, if armed, would be a first for the Marines, who
currently use them only for reconnaissance.
The MOC also stresses another classic Marine trait
that, compared with the other armed services, comes
cheap. It notes that for 6. 5 percent of the baseline fiscal
2010 defense budget of $664 billion, excluding funding for overseas contingency operations and supplementals, the Corps provides 17 percent of the ground
combat maneuver units, 12 percent of fixed-wing tactical aircraft and 19 percent of attack helicopters.
But Dakota Wood, Marine Corps programs analyst at
the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told
the Center for Strategic and International Studies forum,
“There is a substantial gulf between the Marine Corps’
conceptual documents and the Corps that is likely to be
achievable in the future fiscal constraint.”
Marine Corps programs are “fiscally untenable,”
Wood said. And despite the Corps’ view that it will
need its current personnel strength of 202,000, he pre-
dicted that budget pressures would force a cut to
175,000 “with proportional cuts in infantry battalions
and acquisition programs.” ■