USMC Resource Chief: Shortfalls
Threaten Competitive Advantage
An extended funding shortfall and fiscal uncertainty
has forced the Marine Corps to sacrifice modernization
and capacity to keep deployed forces ready, and risk
losing its competitive advantage over potential adversaries in some areas, the Corps’ top resource manager
told a congressional panel March 10.
The Corps is struggling to maintain aged aircraft and
ground combat vehicles, is unable to adequately train
and equip its non-deployed units and pilots, or to add
the capabilities needed to address emerging threats in
cyber, electronic warfare and unmanned aerial systems,
Lt. Gen. Gary L. Thomas, the deputy commandant for
programs and resources, told the House Armed Services
tactical air and land forces subcommittee.
“We are making progress. We have programs in
place. … We just don’t have the resources to buy them
at the rate we need,” Thomas said.
He also cited the problems and expense of acquiring
spare parts for aircraft that are 30 years old, which has
reduced overall aircraft availability from a goal of 75
percent to 45 percent.
In response to a question, Thomas said the Corps
has estimated the need for an additional $4 billion to
its top line and an increase in end strength to 185,000
Marines, from the current 174,000.
Thomas’ concerns were widely shared by committee
members, including chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio,
who noted that from earlier testimony by Gen. Glenn
Walters, the assistant commandant, “we know the
Marine Corps is not only out of balance, but also lacks
the necessary resources needed to rebalance itself.
This is a dangerous trend that we must reverse for the
‘nation’s expeditionary force in readiness’.”
Mass. Rep. Niki Tsongas, the subcommittee’s top
Democrat, however, questioned the Marines’ funding
priorities, noting that its procurement spending was
tilted three-to-one in favor of aircraft over ground
Tsongas cited acquisition spending of $1.5 billion for
ground equipment and ammunition against $5.3 billion
for “just five aircraft programs” — the F-35B, the
MV- 22, and the AH- 1, UH- 1 and CH-53K helicopters.
But Thomas noted that much of that difference was
a reflection of the much higher costs for aircraft over
ground equipment. He cited the Amphibious Combat
Vehicle, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the new
multimission Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar system,
which has the ability to detect small unmanned aerial
systems, as high-priority ground programs.
He also emphasized that because the Marines are a
light expeditionary force, they do not have the heavy
ground firepower the Army has, so “much of that
capability comes from air power.”
“We believe we have it about right,” he said of the
Mergers and Acquisitions
n BAE Systems Inc. has completed the acquisition of
IAP Research — an engineering company focused
on the development and production of electromagnetic launchers, power electronics and advanced
materials — to enhance development of the electromagnetic railgun.
n Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. entered into
a definitive agreement to purchase Coleman
Aerospace from L3 Technologies Inc. Coleman
Aerospace will operate as a subsidiary of Aerojet
Rocketdyne Inc. and be renamed Aerojet Rocketdyne
Coleman Aerospace Inc. Coleman Aerospace has
unveiled its new Space Coast Integration & Test
Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The
facility will be used for missile defense testing.
n LMI Aerospace Inc. has entered into a merger
agreement to be acquired by Sonaca Group, a global
aerostructures company headquartered in Gosselies,
Belgium. Upon transaction close, LMI will oper-
ate as LMI Aerospace — A Member of the Sonaca
Group, with headquarters remaining in St. Louis.
n Airbus has finalized the sale of its Germany-based
Defence Electronics business to KKR, a leading
global investment firm. The Defence Electronics
activity, which will be renamed Hensoldt, is a
global provider of mission-critical sensors, inte-
grated systems and services for premium defense
and security applications.
F/A-18C Hornets with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 rest on the
flight line prior to night operations at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., Feb.
15. Problems with, and the expense of, acquiring spare parts for aircraft,
some of which are 30 years old, has reduced the overall Marine Corps
aircraft availability from a goal of 75 percent to 45 percent.