To make modernising its equipment affordable, the challenge facing the Marine Corps is finding money in the budget to afford modernisation. The current budget is the high-water mark for funding, and future budgets will not be larger.
In the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, the Marine Corps focused on plugging capability holes created by decreased funding in several previous budget cycles and the FY 2020 budget is geared toward improving lethality. As for the budgets in FY 2021 and beyond, they would be all about modernising the Marine Corps.
“It’s only going to get the same or less, in my opinion, down the road. So in order to modernise we have to divest.”
The Marine Corps developed a Requirements Oversight Council to weigh what to fund and what to cut. Divesting might be caused by new technology making older equipment obsolete, or the long-term maintenance cost of a program does not improve lethality.
During the FY 2019 budget process, the Marine Corps identified more than $567 million in savings, in part by identifying programs to either reduce or phase out entirely. These savings were part of an effort reforming how the Marine Corps buys equipment, which has saved about $3.6 billion.
One example is the Marine’s decision to cancel the survivability upgrade for the service’s legacy AAV-7 amphibious landing craft in favor of the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle.
Another example of divesting is how the Marine Corps is replacing its fleet of EA-6B Prowlers and the F-18 Hornets with the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The Marine Corps loses some of its electronic jamming capability by divesting its Prowlers, but the Corps could lean on the Navy’s fleet of EA-18G Growlers to complement more directed electronic jamming equipment mounted on land vehicles or even carried by Marines
Instead, the Marine Corps is developing better means of defeating small unmanned aerial vehicles that are hard to detect with traditional radar, relatively cheap to deploy, and used by the full spectrum of adversaries.
The Marine Corps is developing improved lasers to track and fry the small vehicles and electronic countermeasures to disrupt the signals sent from operators.
“It’s easy to say we need this new thing or that new thing, but no one ever comes to the table with an offset. No one ever comes to the issue team and says, ‘We need this, and I’m going to trade that.”
“But we have to figure out where the trades our if we’re going to modernise and accelerate