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Budget plan: New embassy security detachments, continued funding for forward-deployed units

Mar. 4, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Advanced Marksmanship Training
A Marine with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response fires an M107 Barrett sniper rifle during bilateral training with the Spanish army in July. The Defense Department FY2015 budget plan continues to fully fund the permanently forward-deployed unit. (Cpl. Michael Petersheim/Marine Corps)
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The Pentagon will provide for the creation of 12 new Marine Corps embassy security detachments over the next fiscal year as the service expands its embassy security mission, according to the fiscal year 2015 defense budget request, released Tuesday morning.

The Marine Corps total base budget request for next fiscal year is roughly $22.8 billion, $1.4 billion less than this year, said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Tyler Balzer. This does not include overseas contingency operations funding, which could push the request closer to $30 billion.

The budget proposal, which plans for a Marine Corps personnel drawdown to 182,700, with the possibility of reaching an endstrength of 175,000 Marines in 2017 if budget cuts continue, nonetheless recognizes “new normal” missions, including the fast-deploying Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response and the expanding force of Marine embassy security guards. The FY15 budget will resource 12 new embassy security detachments and provide for the sustainment of existing ones as the Marine Corps completes a total expansion to 35 new detachments by FY2016.

The budget also supports the Marines Corps’ Pacific rebalancing, with designated funding for the Corps’ Unit Deployment Program to Japan and for operational units based in the Pacific.

Where the Marine Corps may continue to feel the squeeze of long-term sequestration budget cuts is among its non-deployed units. According to the Pentagon’s FY 2015 budget overview, only half of non-deployed Marine units were found to be at acceptable readiness levels as of September. The overview reveals narrow efforts to improve readiness at home, including an additional $100 million to improve infrastructure readiness under the president’s paid-for “opportunity, growth and security” initiative.

The OGS initiative will also provide the Marines with resources for the procurement of one H-1 helicopter, one KC-130 Hercules plane and one C-12 multi-mission aircraft.

The Defense Department has yet to reveal its overseas contingency operations, or war funding, request for next fiscal year, which includes training in advance of deployments; according to planning documents, it will be released at a future date.

Marine Corps re-enlistment bonuses will also see a narrow $5 million dip from $60 million to $55 million in the next fiscal year. Navy officials said in budget overview documents that the drop represents a declining need for incentives in light of the Marine Corps’ success in recruiting and retaining qualified personnel in difficult-to-fill military occupational specialties.

As the Marine Corps continues its drawdown, the Corps will drop two infantry battalions and nearly 5,000 troops in the coming year, according to planning documents.

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