US Marines Relying on Supplementals to Rebuild Force
National Defense Magazine notes that the US Marine Corps is requesting $18.2 billion for 2007, while depending on nearly $10 billion in additional funds from 2006 supplemental appropriations. The 2007 request is up slightly from $17.5 billion, but the article notes that 62% will be earmarked for uniformed personnel, 22% for operations and maintenance, and 4% for military construction and family housing. Less than 10% – $1.4 billion – will go to procure new equipment.
Planned USMC Supplemental requests include money to:
- Replace radio systems. The sand of Iraq is not kind to electronics.
- Add armor to ground vehicles. Necessary in the Iraqi environment.
- Buy several hundred more new MTVR trucks and up-armor the 900 or so existing MTVR trucks in theater.
- Buy new AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and UH-1Y Venom transport helicopters to replace existing AH-1 SuperCobra and UH-1 Huey helicopters.
- Buy new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles to replace the old AAV7 Amtracs, amphibious vehicles that are being used extensively far inland.
- Replace retiring M198 155mm howitzers with air-portable but far more expensive M777/ LW155 lightweight howitzers.
- Replace worn out or crashed CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters with MV-22 Ospreys at well over twice the helicopter replacement price for each Osprey.
- Buy new HIMARS mobile multiple rocket launchers.
- Buy new KC-130J Hercules refueling aircraft that serve as the USMC’s air-air refueling aircraft for jets and helicopters.
- Fund an additional 4,000 Marines who are currently in the force. Note that 2,600 Marines are headed to the new MARCOM Special Forces command.
- Redesign USMC body armor tactical shells and helmets.
The Marines also want to buy 851 more HMMWVs at a cost of $72 million, because up-armoring wears out the existing ones due to weight issues. In this case, similar-sized and in-use options like the RG-31 that would not wear out in 4 years and are better designed to survive frequently-encountered IED land mine attacks do not appear to be on the agenda.
In our February 21, 2006 article “US Defense Budget Guide: Breakdowns, Dodges and Tricks,” Winslow Wheeler discussed the use and abuses of wartime supplemental funding as an item to watch, and the US Army recently provided a vivid case study. Read the full National Defense Magazine article for more details concerning many of the USMC’s supplemental requests – including the detail that some lawmakers are becoming impatient with the use of supplementals in order to fund items that they believe should be part of a responsible regular budget.