Non-deployed Marine units ill-prepared to go to war
By Jeff Schogol
Nearly half of non-deployed Marine units do not have all of the personnel, equipment or training they need, said Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton.
"I think it's 46 percent [of units that] have some degree of personnel, training or equipment degradation," Paxton told reporters on Thursday after testifying before the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee.
Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has said he wants 80 percent of the Marine units Corps either at or near optimum readiness levels, but "we’re not there," said Paxton, who did not have detailed information about what precisely non-deployed units lack.
Last year, lawmakers reached an agreement to set federal spending levels for fiscals 2016 and 2017 that gave the Defense Department as a whole $17 billion less than it wanted for next fiscal year. Under aA bipartisan budget agreement struck by that lawmakers struck last year will leave, the Defense Department with will receive $17 billion less than it hoped for next fiscal year. As a result, the Marine Corps’ budget was cut by $1.7 billion, said Lt. Gen. Glenn Walters, deputy commandant for Programs and Resources.
To remedy readiness issues, the Marine Corps plans to ask Congress for $460 million as part of the service’s unfunded priority list, he said Lt. Gen. Glenn Walters, deputy commandant for Programs and Resources. That e money would go towards training, exercises, facility sustainment and spare parts Walters said told reporters.
Last year, lawmakers reached an agreement to set federal spending levels for fiscals 2016 and 2017 that gave the Defense Department as a whole $17 billion less than it wanted for next fiscal year. As a result, the Marine Corps' budget was cut by $1.7 billion, Walters said.
"Our readiness dollars are $460 million less that we executed at a minimal level for [fiscal] 15," Walters said. "We’re going to try get up to that funding level so that we can sustain [our] ... that kind of operations tempo," Walters said.
Marine Corps officials reiterated on Thursday that Marine aviation squadrons community faces the most serious readiness issues.
"We do not believe that we are going to have full-spectrum aviation readiness until at least 2020 — and that is presuming that the budget continues as is," Paxton told lawmakers at Thursday’s hearing.
Between buying new aircraft while maintaining older models has made it challenging to ones,getting aviation units the enough spare parts they need has been a challenge, Paxton said told reporters.
"A lot of times, it is the parts that [are]is the key limiting factor," he said. "You have to get them out there. That takes money to do it. It also takes time to get them there."
Part of the $460 million that the Marine Corps is requesting from Congress would buy spare parts for the new F-35B joint strike fighters s that the service is buying, Walters said.
"From the '12 budget to now, we’ve lost 30 percent of our dollars across the board," he said told reporters. "Our toplines have been flat. We try to buy the right parts that we project we’re going to need. We know we’re under resourced for spare parts."