Washington: The Marine Corps says it needs more amphibious ships. Now, thanks to a new working group, they will finally have the numbers to prove it.
The working group, started today by Marine Corps Combat Development Command, will take information from upcoming amphibious exercises and use that data to as it presents the service’s arguments to Capitol Hill and DoD for more ships, according to a source familiar with the group.
Those exercises will run the gamut from large-scale amphibious drills such as the upcoming Bold Alligator to smaller exercises geared toward specific combat scenarios, the source said.
The Marines are looking to increase the 28-ship amphibious fleet up to 33, which the service says is the base number of vessels needed to support two brigade-sized Marine Expeditionary units.
It remains unclear what types of individual combat scenarios the group use for their analysis will drill down into since those details will likely be classified.
The Marines are already compiling information from past exercises for the working group as part of that effort, according to one Marine Corps official.
Once information will be key to Marine Corps as it makes its argument to the Hill for more amphibious ships in their spending proposal for fiscal year 2013.
Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Amos has been publicly touting the effectiveness of amphibious ships in recent months.
Citing successful operations in Libya and humanitarian efforts in Haiti, the four-star general claimed DoD could get more bang for the buck by putting more amphibs in the fleet.
Despite all that rhetoric, the Marines have not done a good enough job in putting hard numbers in place to clearly show the service needs more amphibious ships, the source said.
The data provided by the new Marine Corps working group will look to fill that gap. Given the growing pressure on defense spending, the Marines will need all the help they can get.
The service has already put a plan in place to shrink its total force once as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
But many in DoD and on the Hill are expecting troop levels within the services to drop much lower than had been expected, with some anticipating a 100,000-man cut across the services.