With the F-35B getting a reprieve, it is time for all good Marines to look to the fate of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos faces difficult budget choices between the V-22, the F-35B and the EFV. The V-22 clearly boasts the greatest support from the Corps, followed by the STOVL version of the JSF.
It has suffered serious cost overruns, is very, very late and has previously been identified as a program on the chopping block. On top of that, while few politicians or senior policymakers are willing to step out in public and say the Marines should scrap their amphibious mission, serious questions have been raised about the need or likelihood of a true amphibious assault from ships offshore to a beach on some Pacific isle -- or Iran, for that matter.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright would not predict the fact of EFV but told our colleagues at Inside the Pentagon that: "It's expensive."
Also, as any canny commandant would know, the Marines can storm Capitol Hill better than any other service. If they decide they really do need EFV they can always tap the community of retired Marines, including those who serve in Congress. One story going the rounds has Gen. Cartwright going to Gates during the last round of major program cuts and personally intervening to save the EFV. He may not be able to save it from cuts inside the building this time, but Cartwright would be a formidable voice on the program's behalf in the back rooms of the Capitol. And Gates will soon be gone.