Marines Relying on Supplementals to Rebuild Force
Posted 30-Mar-2006 15:18

National Defense Magazine notes that the US Marine Corps is requesting $18.2 billion for 2007, while depending on nearly $10 billion in additional funds from 2006 supplemental appropriations. The 2007 request is up slightly from $17.5 billion, but the article notes that 62% will be earmarked for uniformed personnel, 22% for operations and maintenance, and 4% for military construction and family housing. Less than 10% - $1.4 billion - will go to procure new equipment.

Planned USMC Supplemental requests include money to:

Replace radio systems. As DID has noted before, the sand of Iraq is not kind to electronics.
Add armor to ground vehicles. Necessary in the Iraqi environment.
Buy several hundred more new MTVR trucks and up-armor the 900 or so existing MTVR trucks in theater.
Buy new AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and UH-1Y Venom transport helicopters to replace existing AH-1 SuperCobra and UH-1 Huey helicopters.
Buy new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles to replace the old AAV7 Amtracs, amphibious vehicles that are being used extensively far inland.
Replace retiring M198 155mm howitzers with air-portable but far more expensive M777/ LW155 lightweight howitzers.
Replace worn out or crashed CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters with MV-22 Ospreys at well over twice the helicopter replacement price for each Osprey.
Buy new HIMARS mobile multiple rocket launchers.
Buy new KC-130J Hercules refueling aircraft that serve as the USMC's air-air refueling aircraft for jets and helicopters.
Fund an additional 4,000 Marines who are currently in the force. Note that 2,600 Marines are headed to the new MARCOM Special Forces command.
Redesign USMC body armor tactical shells and helmets.

The Marines also want to buy 851 more HMMWVs at a cost of $72 million, because up-armoring wears out the existing ones due to weight issues. In this case, similar-sized and in-use options like the RG-31 that would not wear out in 4 years and are better designed to survive frequently-encountered IED land mine attacks do not appear to be on the agenda.

In our February 21, 2006 article "US Defense Budget Guide: Breakdowns, Dodges and Tricks," Winslow Wheeler that discussed the use and abuses of wartime supplemental funding as an item to watch, and the US Army recently provided a vivid case study. Read the full National Defense Magazine article for more details concerning many of the USMC's supplemental requests - including the detail that some lawmakers are becoming impatient with the use of supplementals in order to fund items that they believe should be part of a responsible regular budget.