Marines Eye Ground Vehicles, Budget In Mind

From our friends at Aviation Week --

Tough economic realities looming in defense spending are casting a shadow over U.S. Marine Corps plans for its ground tactical fleet, which will likely soon see orders trimmed or possibly scrapped.

Every program in the corps' fleet, from Humvees to marine personnel carriers (MPC), is under service scrutiny in the wake of Defense Secretary Robert Gates's announcement that he intends to cut $100 billion from the defense budget over the next five years. While most of the cuts are predicted to come from personnel, the corps is bracing for its own contribution, including reductions in vehicle programs.

"Fiscal resources will be reduced and drive reductions in Marine Corps end-strength, equipment and modernization," writes Gen. James Conway, the commandant, in a report outlining a force structure review that was circulated internally among commanders in August. The review is to conclude Dec. 17.

Leaders worry that the planned vehicle force will be too heavy for expeditionary operations. "The current table of equipment . . . is too heavy for amphibious shipping," Conway states in the report, a copy of which was obtained by DTI. "We should expect to continue to be postured forward aboard Navy ships, immediately operationally available," he said later.

The Force Structure Review Group's assessment of the corps' needs will become a baseline for vehicle inventory management, explains Christopher Yunker, head of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command's Counter Mobility section in Quantico, Va. "We recognize that we've got to reduce the inventory," he says, noting that the corps' fleet of 43,000 vehicles is expected to be reduced to 32,600. "Our view is that every capability set probably has a contribution to that vehicle reduction."

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