Three of the most troubled Pentagon weapon programs are being developed for the Marine Corps, whose missions have evolved over time so that massive amphibious operations are today its primary, if not only, focus.
Coincidentally, this figure is remarkably close to the $100 billion in savings that President Obama’s Deficit Commission wants to cut from the Pentagon budget, and to the $100 billion that Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to save by better management.
Perhaps it is time to reconsider whether the Marine Corps should spend huge amounts of money to develop “exquisite” but non-performing weapons to perform a mission which looks increasingly irrelevant to future military scenarios.
The article focuses on the “Big Three” procurement programs for the Marines- The MV-22, the EFV, and the F-35B JSF. All three are programs that are stunningly expensive. And all three are also well over cost and way behind in their development schedules.
I strongly believe the nation needs its Marine Corps. And unlike the author of the article, I remain firmly convinced that the Marines need to maintain a forcible entry capability. In fact, my vision for the Marines would be to focus on providing that capability, and serving as a national strategic reserve. Get the Marines out of the current fight in Afghanistan. Let them focus on the missions I just noted.
I recognize that the forcible entry role requires specialized equipment. But in all three of these examples, the Marines have set the bar for capabilities so high that the costs of the programs have spiraled out of control, timelines have been stretched out, and as a result, procurement numbers have been slashed, with unit prices going up steeply. That’s the procurement death spiral. Let’s kill all three programs now, save some money, and look at a modest near term recapitalization of the Marines assets.