President Barack Obama’s proposed fiscal 2016 defense budget would give the Marine Corps a total of $25.3 billion, which is only $400
million over current funding but would support its
major procurement programs and provide a much
needed “pause” in the personnel cuts that have left the
Corps short of small unit leaders and straining to
maintain a high pace of operations.
In his written testimony to the House Appropriations
defense subcommittee on Feb. 26, Marine Corps Commandant Gen Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said his priorities were:
; Addressing the personnel problems created by the
drawdown from 202,000 Marines, by funding reductions and a high operational tempo.
; Improving the readiness of non-deployed units.
; Supporting the crucial modernization programs,
including the F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter;
amphibious combat vehicle (ACV); Joint Light Tactical
Vehicle (JLTV); CH-53K heavy-lift cargo helicopter; and
command, control, communications and computer sys-
tems ( C4); plus updating and
extending the service lives of the cur-
rent tactical aircraft and assault
Dunford also supported funding
for Navy programs essential to
Navy-Marine expeditionary operations, including new amphibious
ships, the “alternative platforms”
needed to make up for the shortage
of traditional amphibs, and the
The proposed budget, if enacted
by Congress, would support all of
Perhaps the most positive factor
is that the proposed Marine personnel funding of $13.3 billion
would hold the Corps’ manpower
level at 184,000, just 100 Marines
below the 2015 authorized end strength.
The Navy Department’s budget book said the
requested funding would allow the Corps “to pause the
recent drawdown path while assessing the impact of
the four-year drawdown on small unit leaders in the
face of a continued high operational tempo.”
The Corps’ end strength would then drop in 2017 to
182,000, which Marine leaders hope will be the floor,
instead of the 174,000 projected under sequestration
which is supposed to return in 2016.
The budget would trim the Marine Corps Reserves
from 39,500 to 39,200.
In his testimony, Dunford noted that with the reduced
funding of the last three years, “to meet our responsibilities as the nation’s 9-1-1 force, we prioritized near-term
readiness while assuming risk in our home station readiness, modernization, infrastructure and quality-of-life
programs. We will attempt to re-establish an acceptable
balance across the five pillars of readiness across the
future years’ defense plan,” he said.
Some Time to Reassess
Budget request would allow the Corps
‘to pause the recent drawdown path’
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
In his written testimony to the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, many of the “priorities” listed by Gen Joseph F.
Dunford Jr., commandant of the Marine Corps, were acquisition
programs aimed at correcting equipment weaknesses.
; High on that list are two aviation programs: the F-35B
Lightning II short-takeoff, vertical-landing variant and the CH-53K
; The Corps’ top ground priority is the amphibious combat vehicle, which is the latest attempt to replace the Vietnam-vintage
AAV- 7 amphibious assault vehicles.
; Dunford also supported funding for Navy shipbuilding programs because the Corps’ amphibious capabilities “are reliant on
the nation’s investments in our partnered Navy programs.”