The Marine Corps will temporarily "pause" its drawdown in 2016 in order to assess the impact the policy has had on small unit leaders following years high operational tempo.
The pause will reduce deployment-to-dwell rations as Marines are called on to fulfill a slew of missions around the world, including contributing to the fight against the Islamic State group, manning two new land-based crisis response units for Africa and the Middle East, and carrying out the service's pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.
But as recently as a few months ago, Marine officials quietly revised those numbers, saying the Corps would hold fast at 182,000.
Though this year's budget represents a $1.5 billion increase for the Corps, combined with significant cuts to the overseas contingency funding given the end to the war in Afghanistan, it comes out to a roughly $400 million boost over fiscal 2015, said Capt. Tyler Balzer, a Marine Corps spokesman.
Still, the size of the defense budget flies in the face of sequestration, which likely will make it contentious in Congress. Rear Adm. William K. Lescher said the scope of the financial road map was a response to 13 years of war combined with austere budgets in recent years.
That stress includes reduced deployment-to-dwell times and a maintenance backlog, Lescher said.
The Corps' budget also includes about $219 million for the unfinished amphibious combat vehicle, with millions more slated for updating amphibious assault vehicles to temporarily bridge the gap, Lescher said. The Navy will award contracts to two vendors for the engineering, development and manufacturing of the ACV in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, he added.
The proposed budget also includes a 1.3 percent pay raise for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, but that's well below wage increases private sector employees are expected to see.
Money budgeted for re-enlistment bonuses increased by $1 million, up from $55 million in fiscal 2015. Enlistment bonuses are up as well, rising from $6.8 million to $8.5 million.
The pool of money for incentive pay shrinks in the budget. For enlisted Marines, there is $9.5 million available as opposed to $9.9 million in fiscal 2015. For officers, the amount of money dropped from $38.2 million to $36.3 million.
But more money has been put aside for education. After allocating $2.3 million in fiscal 2014 and $7 million in 2015, the Corps will have roughly $9.7 million to dole out in 2016.