Beaufort (SC) Gazette
November 19, 2002

Marine Questions Integration Plan

By Michael Kerr, Gazette Staff Writer

With a new integration plan between the Marine Corps and Navy about a month
away, a local Marine is concerned about overcommitting Marine aviation to
Navy aircraft carriers.

Capt. Sean Garick, a member of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 224
Bengals stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, raised several
questions concerning the increased integration of Marine fighter squadrons
into Navy airwings in his article Enough Marine Air on Carriers Already,
which was published in the August edition of Proceedings, a magazine of the
Naval Institute.

Garick said he supports integration on a limited basis, but said the Marine
Corps already has enough squadrons committed to Navy airwings.
Four of the Marine Corps' 14 active F/A-18 squadrons are assigned to Navy
airwings, and Garick said he feels the Corps can't afford to commit any

He said the main objective of Marine aviation is not to fight air wars.
"Our primary focus is to support Marines when they go in on the ground,"
Garick said. "We're going to start missing out on supporting those
individual Marines on the ground."

Capt. Joseph Kloppel of the public affairs division at Marine Corps
Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said a lack of support for ground troops
will not be a problem.

"(Marine air-ground task force) will be every bit, if not more, lethal as it
is already," Kloppel said.

Kloppel said the number of squadrons committed to Navy airwings is among the
details still to be decided.

Garick said another problem revolving around manpower is that the jets used
by the Marine Corps are getting older and require more maintenance than they
did when they were new.

This could become an issue, Garick said, because one possible solution to
the manpower problem is to cut the number of jets in integrated squadrons
from 12 to 10 and to cut back on the number of maintenance Marines in each
squadron as well.

"You may have 12 jets (in a squadron), but you may have six or seven that
are parked out here to be worked on, and only three or four that you can
fly," Garick said. "Taking a couple of jets away and cutting back on Marines
is going to aggravate the situation."

Garick is also concerned with the Marine Corps' plans for purchasing Joint
Strike Fighters, a new breed of jet set to arrive in 2010.

With more than one version of the jet available, Garick said the Marine
Corps originally planned on buying the short takeoff and vertical landing
model, which is designed to take off on very short runways.

"It gives us the greatest versatility in supporting our primary mission,"
Garick said.

The Navy, on the other hand, planned to buy aircraft carrier versions of the
jet, Garick said.

"It will be interesting to see when we actually place these orders if we
stick by it and buy these (short takeoff) versions, which support our
Marines, or if we buy carrier versions.

"Aviation is another tool in the bag for the ground units. That's what we're
here for as Marine aviation. That's real hard for other people and other
services to see."

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