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3-star: Deployed troops get budget priority

Mar. 23, 2013 - 10:37AM   |  
Lt. Gen. William M. Faulkner, deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics, talks about the challenges ahead during a March 8 interview at the Pentagon.
Lt. Gen. William M. Faulkner, deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics, talks about the challenges ahead during a March 8 interview at the Pentagon. (Colin Kelly / Staff)
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Faced with deep budget cuts and sequestration, the Corps’ top logistics officer has a tough mission ahead of him.

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Faced with deep budget cuts and sequestration, the Corps’ top logistics officer has a tough mission ahead of him.

But while senior leaders plead with Congress for financial relief, Lt. Gen. William M. Faulkner, deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics, must keep the Corps running at home and abroad, no matter the budget he is handed.

Overall, the Corps will come up $1.4 billion short this fiscal year. That shortfall will complicate reset and depot maintenance for critical gear as the Corps pulls out of Afghanistan. It is likely to delay construction and facilities maintenance, too. And with civilian furloughs imminent, it could threaten base services, Faulkner said.

Nevertheless, he is determined to preserve the most vital services and programs at home while keeping Marines in the war zone equipped. Faulkner met with Marine Corps Times on March 8 to discuss the challenges ahead. Excerpts, edited for space and clarity:

Q. What are your top priorities?

A. My priority as the Marine Corps’ senior logistician is support the folks that are forward deployed, first and foremost. The day-to-day sustainment of our Marines is pretty much taken care of. It is a pretty mature theater. But what I am focusing in on, in support of resetting for the future, is getting equipment out that is not required for day-to-day operations and then get it fixed and back out to our operating forces.

Q. A lot of your depot manpower consists of civilians. How will sequestration and furloughs affect equipment reset?

A. We have 845 people — a combination of contractors and long-term employees — that are potentially going to be laid off because of sequestration. Those are not just wrench turners. A lot are artisans. We could be delayed in our ability to reset upwards of 18 months to two years.

Q. So Marines might not be able to step in for some of these highly skilled artisans, but where might they fill in during civilian furloughs?

A. Marines will have to fill some of these gaps. But [a big] concern is those harder skills where we just don’t have the depth. We have a lot of civilian Marines that we count on for law enforcement, for fire, for [emergency medical services], and we have those guys and gals because we don’t have Marines that do that. So it is not like you can take Lance Cpl. Faulkner and plug him into that spot without a certain amount of training.

Q. What guidance are you giving to installation commanders as they grapple with shrinking budgets?

A. Take the reductions in areas that least affect readiness and keeping faith with our Marines and their families — not only quality of life, but probably more important, safety and protection of life and property.

Q. With your installation commanders shuffling funds to prioritize critical functions, where are we seeing cuts in base services.

A. We are not seeing any yet, but we will. I think it is fair to say that just about everything will be impacted, whether it is things such as the commissary being closed one extra day a week; Marine Corps Community Services, their budgets are going to be reduced and probably it’s going to affect all the facilities on the base that are MCCS funded.

Q. The shift to the Pacific is the service’s main focus outside of Afghanistan. Part of that is ramping up the number of Marines in Hawaii. What must you do from a facilities standpoint to support that?

A. The near-term piece is 900 Marines, and I think it’s right around 42 aircraft. In terms of housing for the accompanied Marines, the focus is going to be to continue to rely on the local economy. Today, there is ongoing construction on Kaneohe. We are building barracks. We’re building other facilities to support what we have in our plan for growth.

Q. What about Darwin, Australia?

A. The first phase has just been completed. That was a 250-person detachment. And they lived in really expeditionary standards, thanks to the Australian government. They provided the facilities. As we look to the next phase, at least in the near term, we have no plans to build permanent facilities. But we are working closely with the Australians, and as we move to our end state, which is the 2,500-person [Marine air-ground task force], we will deal with that.

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