Looking ahead, as the Corps is
forced to scale back because of
budget cuts, Paxton said the service
will try to remain balanced, both on
“the Green side,” meaning within
the Marines, and on the “
Blue-Green,” or Navy-Marine side. One
aspect of the latter would be looking
at possible uses of Joint High-Speed
Vessels and Littoral Combat Ships to
substitute for amphibious ships.
Paxton noted that the Corps
wanted to drop from the 202,000
Marines it had during the peak of
the Iraq-Afghanistan deployments
to 186,800, but was forced to plan to
go down to 182,100 because of sequestration. And it might have to go
down even farther, he said.
But the Marines will not go
down the way they went up, he
said, because they found they were
lacking some key support elements. As a result, the Marines are
“casing the colors,” or disbanding,
infantry and artillery battalions to
create more combat engineers and
explosive ordnance disposal units.
Asked how the Corps would use
the small amount of money and
spending flexibility it will gain
from the appropriations bill Congress approved Jan. 16, Paxton said
the first priority will be to buy back
some of the readiness lost due to
the impact of sequestration last
year. The second priority would be
to restore some of the funding that
had to be taken from installation
support, he said.
In response to a question about
the effort to develop the Amphibious
Combat Vehicle (ACV) to replace
their Vietnam-vintage assault amphibious vehicles (AAVs), Paxton
first explained why that capability is
needed to complement the improved
airlift from the MV- 22 Ospreys tiltrotor aircraft and the heavy-lift
Landing Craft Air Cushions.
“The missing piece is on the
ground side, the need to protect the
trigger squeezers [infantry], to get
a significant number of trigger
squeezers ashore,” particularly at
night, he said.
The ACV would carry about a
squad of Marines with their gear
and provide armor protection and
fire support on land.
Although Gen James F. Amos,
Marine Corps commandant, had
planned to make a decision on how
to proceed with the ACV by last
December, Paxton said that a decision had not yet been made.
“We are committed to keeping
the ACV program alive in the existing budget environment,” he said.
“We know we will have to make a
decision,” he added, but did not
Part of the difficulty in deciding
on the ACV is the question of whether the Marines would try again to
get a high water speed, like they did
with the Expeditionary Fighting
Vehicle, which was canceled when
the cost of getting that capability
soared, or settle for a slow speed like
the current AAV-7s, which go about
7 knots in the water.
“We are committed to having
the ACV. … If we can get high
[water] speed at an affordable cost,
that is the way to go,” Paxton said.
Coast Guard To Gain
Air Force Aircraft
The U.S. Coast Guard will be receiv-
ing 14 C-27J Spartan medium-sized
military transport aircraft from the
Air Force over the next six to 12
months. The cargo planes had been
highly sought by the Coast Guard
and U.S. Forest Service after the Air
Force announced they were not
needed anymore in its fleet.
Congress awarded the service the
aircraft after passing the National
Defense Authorization Act for 2014
in December. Part of the agreement
calls for the Coast Guard to transfer
seven C-130 long-range surveillance
aircraft to the Air Force, which will
then modify them into firefighting
aircraft for the Forest Service.
The C-27Js are expected to augment a fleet that has seen little
funding for aircraft recapitalization
over the last two years. The Coast
Guard’s fiscal 2014 budget request
did not ask for any funding to
build a new aircraft in its $909 million acquisition, construction and
As the service takes on the C-27s,
the fate of the HC-144A Ocean Sentry medium-range surveillance aircraft fleet remains in question. The
Coast Guard has accepted delivery
for 15 of 18 the EADS North
America-built aircraft currently
under contract. The original plan
was to purchase 36 total aircraft, but
no more have been ordered.
Once it receives the C-27s from
the Air Force, the Coast Guard will
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY 2014
The U.S. Coast Guard will receive 14 C-27J Spartan aircraft over the next
year from the U.S. Air Force. In turn, the Coast Guard will transfer seven C-
130 aircraft to the Air Force. They will then be modified and turned over to the
U.S. Forest Service as firefighting aircraft.