Things that make you go “hmmm…”


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.

1 thought on “Things that make you go “hmmm…””

  1. You’re on the button Brad. We do, indeed, need Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children and their forcible entry capability.

    I think the original vison for the USMC, however, is the right one. The Navy belonged to the president and was at his beck and call for those things short of all out war. In the case of all out war, i.e. WW2, they are shock troops, but they have been misused there as well. They were great for the Island campaign of the central Pacific, and in places like Nicaragua and Haiti, places where Puller made his bones. In the line in WW1, however, was not their place.

    Things like the MV-22 and the 35B, are things they really don’t need, and don’t serve as well as some of the things they already had. In the end, the 22 will end up being one of those things, like its predecessors, something too complex to maintained in combat conditions. As it is, it required pre-positioned support before it can be used in anything close to serious ways.

    USMC is a good force, and too important to lose. Letting them loose to select their own aircraft has not been something they could be proud of, however.

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