The more that we are fiscally constrained and the more
we try to hold manpower and readiness, the more we
mortgage that science and technology, that research, development, acquisition, and the more we make it harder to
modernize. And then, for some of our adversaries, or for
some of the rising powers, they [threaten to] outpace us,
and that is something we don’t like to see or have happen.
How is the MV- 22 Osprey changing the way
the MEU air combat element operates?
PAXTON: It is, quite simply, a game-changer. It is an
absolute game-changer. It will give you twice the
speed, three times the payload and four times the range
as the previous aircraft laydown. We have about
160,000 hours in the Osprey that we’ve flown so far. I
think we’ve had 14 deployments; I think there were
three to Iraq, six to Afghanistan and five on the MEUs.
… When you look at some of the ranges that they can
cover and the things they do — we just moved V-22s
from Futenma in Japan all the way down to Australia,
and we’ve also taken V-22s from Afghanistan all the
way to Sigonella [Naval Air Station, Italy].
They were on and off the boats. They were involved in
the trap mission in Odyssey Dawn [in Libya in 2011].
Their combat range, their utility, their speed, they go up to
25,000 feet, capable of aerial refueling, so when we do
planning as a MEU commander,
when you do planning as an RCT
[Regimental Combat Team] com-
mander — insertion, evacuation,
resupply, CASEVAC [casualty evacu-
ation] — it’s just a game-changer any
way you look at it.
Let’s talk about the withdraw-
al from Afghanistan and the
retrograde and reset of your
equipment. What is the time-
line? How are we doing on
getting equipment out?
PAXTON: We are at or perhaps a lit-
tle bit ahead of where we wanted to
be with getting equipment out. It is a
very tenuous and a very day-to-day
risk, and nature of the business,
whether the GLOCs [ground lines of
communication] are opened or
closed, whether there is a tax on
both the vehicles and parcels that are
coming out. We have been on record
saying that it is going to be at least
two, probably three years from the
time that last piece of equipment
comes up to the time we reset, and
[cost us] between $2 billion and $3 billion to do the reset.
We constantly scrub the numbers. The Central
Command and ISAF [International Security Assistance
Force] are both very good about working with us on
what we call R4OG [Retrograde and Redeployment in
support of Reset and Reconstitution Operational
Group], which is our way of looking at reset and
reconstitution. We are doing well, but we watch it on a
daily basis given the threat on the ground and then
also what we need around the world.
We also constantly take a look at what we not only
get out of the country, but what we bring all the way
back. We relook at theater stocks, about what we may
do independently or with the Army, what we may want
to put on the ship, and where the best place is for some
of this gear coming back. A lot of that is fiscally driven
by how much money we have.
I know that the Navy has had a real problem
with maintenance availability, canceling some
to save money. Are you seeing the same thing
with your equipment maintenance?
PAXTON: Yes. Given sequestration, given the furloughs and things like that, all of that has adversely
impacted our ability to get things onto the assembly
line and to get them maintained and rehabilitated and
Paxton speaks during the Sea-Air-Space Exposition panel “The Budget Today:
Implications and Execution” April 10 at the Gaylord National Resort &
Convention Center, National Harbor, Md.