funding would be compounded in
the 2014 budget, which department officials have been trying to
craft amid all the uncertainty.
Another future problem facing
the Navy, he said, was finding room
in the base budget to pay for the
additional ship maintenance that has
been funded by the separate supplemental or Overseas Contingency
Operations funds for the conflicts in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Those funds
are being phased out with the
planned drawdown in Afghanistan.
In his prepared testimony,
Stackley gave a health report on the
various sectors of the Navy shipbuilding industrial base. He said the
aircraft carrier, submarine and surface warship yards and suppliers
were in good shape, but expressed
concern about the amphibious and
He appeared particularly concerned about the future of General
Dynamics’ NASSCO yard in San
Diego, which is finishing the last of
the T-AKE supply ships and working on the three authorized mobile
landing platforms, but has no work
Amos: 182,100 Marines
‘Rock Bottom’ Number
Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine
Corps Commandant, said Aug. 23
he has no plans to cut the service’s
personnel end strength below the
182,100 limit imposed by last year’s
long-term budget cuts, calling that
number “absolutely the rock bottom” force needed to carry out the
new national security strategy.
If Congress and the administration fail to find a compromise to
avoid sequester and the subsequent
additional $500 billion cut in
defense funds over the next decade,
the national security strategy would
have to be revised, Amos said. But
he could not say what changes that
would mean to the Corps.
“We would take a disproportionate cut,” he said.
The general stressed that he was
committed to “keeping faith” with
his Marines during the force reduction. That means not using any
involuntary separation methods
and allowing all enlisted Marines
and officers to complete their contracted time in service. But competition for retention would become
tougher, he added.
In an hour-long session with
defense reporters at the Pentagon,
Amos sketched out the plans for putting about 22,000 Marines in the
Pacific under the new strategy,
described the plans and status of the
Corps’ major procurement programs, including the F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter, the Joint
Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and the
Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV).
Asked about reports that Gen.
Joseph L. Dunford Jr., the assistant
commandant, is being considered
to replace Marine Gen. John R.
Allen as the top commander in
Afghanistan, Amos praised his
deputy as “one of the finest officers
to ever wear this uniform.” But he
said any new position for him
would be up to the defense secretary and the president.
Recently returned from a two-week tour of the Pacific, Amos said
the renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region has “a sense of going
home” for older Marines because
of the Corps’ history there. But, he
noted, it would be a new experience for most of the younger
Marines, who have been fighting in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 22,000 Marines that are
planned for the Pacific would
include additional forces in Hawaii,
and about 4,500 on Guam and
2,500 in Australia — mostly in units
that would rotate in rather than
being permanently assigned there.
The Marines on Okinawa, Japan,
would be reduced from the current
14,000 to just over 10,000, with
some moved to Iwakuni, Japan, and
others to Guam, he said.
On his major procurement programs, Amos said the F-35B is “
progressing well,” and he expects to
stand up the first operational
squadron at Marine Corps Air
Station Yuma, Ariz., in November.
But he could not say when it would
achieve initial operational capability.
The commandant said plans to
buy about 5,000 JLTVs was part of a
ground tactical vehicle strategy that
will require the Corps to go with
“what’s good enough” in light of the
constrained budgets. That policy
applies as well to the proposed ACV,
which would replace the aged AAV- 7
amphibious assault vehicles. Amos
said he ordered another review of the
requirements for the ACV so he can
present the proposal to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus later this year as
absolutely what the Marines need.
The vehicle strategy calls for
buying the JLTVs before procurement starts on the ACV so they can
afford both within the limited procurement budget, Amos said.
CNO Establishes Pacific
The Navy in October is establishing an expeditionary combat command for the U.S. Pacific Fleet to
mirror the fleet command relationships of other type commanders.
The action will involve the shift of
administrative command of some
riverine, explosive ordnance disposal, and Seabee units from U.S.
Fleet Forces Command on the East
Coast to the Pacific Fleet.
On Oct. 1, Commander, Navy
Expeditionary Combat Command
Pacific (CNECCP), was established
at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The new
command absorbs expeditionary
units based in the Pacific from
Commander, Navy Expeditionary
Combat Command (CNECC), based
in Virginia Beach, Va.
The new NECCP is commanded
by the same admiral as NECC under
a “dual-hat” arrangement, made easier by modern communications.