General Amos visits Kuwait

WASHINGTON:  Fewer F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, MV-22 Ospreys, AH-1 Cobras, and UH-1 Hueys. No Marine Personnel Carrier. Maybe no Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace the Humvee. 8,000 fewer Marines on active duty. The Marine Commandant has put all that on the table as part of his proposal to the Defense Secretary’s Strategic Choices and Management Review. If sequester goes into effect in its full 10-year, $500 billion glory – and all signs so far are it will – then Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos stands ready to sacrifice almost everything except the Amphibious Combat Vehicle and combat readiness.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hasn’t made his final decisions, Gen. Amos emphasized at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast this morning. But Amos made clear his preferences. A select and secretive team on Amos’s staff has come up with its own plan to cut the Marine Corps budget by 10 percent – reflecting full sequester – and submitted it to Hagel to be considered as part of the SCMR.

“I don’t want this to happen,” Amos said, but if it has to, “tell me what my budget’s going to be; I’ll build the best Marine Corps that America can afford.”

“I don’t want to get out ahead of my secretary because there’ve been no final decisions made,” Amos said when asked for details, but the butcher’s bill for full sequestration will definitely cost the Marines Corps “infantry battalions… logistics battalions…. fixed-wing squadrons … [some] F-35s… some [AH-1] Cobras and [UH-1] Hueys… some MV-22s.”

Then there is the gear the Marines may never get at all. That includes the Marine Personnel Carrier, a wheeled, armored transport meant to complement more costly tracked vehicles. Just weeks ago contractors were boasting about successful trials of MPC contenders. But “MPC is off the table now,” Amos sighed. “It’s not a function of it wasn’t a good idea and there wasn’t a need” – it was and there is – “but you can’t have everything…. We’ll keep the concept, probably, alive but we’re not heading towards MPC right now.”

Then Amos raised a big question mark over a big program, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, an armored truck meant to combine the protection of the MRAPs built for Afghanistan and Iraq with the offroad mobility of the original Humvee. The Army is buying more than 90 percent of the new vehicles, but the Marines were slated to buy the first 5,500 JLTVs off the production line. Even that figure required the Corps to keep (and modernize) half its existing Humvees. Now it may buy no JLTVs at all.

“JLTV is moving along,” said Amos, “[but] under sequestration I’d say it’s certainly on the block for consideration.” As with the Marine Personnel Carrier, “I need them, I like ‘em, but [if] I pay my full sequester bill of 10 percent, it’s going to be questionable whether I can afford JLTV,” he said. “I like what I see but I’m not going to die in a ditch over it.”

What Amos will die in a ditch over, however, is a new amphibious armored transport to carry Marines from their assault ships to shore and then, switching to tank-like tracks, inland. That capability is so critical to the Marines’ core competency as a seaborne force that Amos said he will cancel JLTV and live with refurbished Humvees “before I mortgage the Amphibious Combat Vehicle.”

“That program is alive,” Amos said of the ACV. “I have kept the money – it’s a modest amount of money” in the near-term, all for R&D.

“I’m only going to get one bite at this apple; I don’t want to mess this up,” Amos said. That’s because in 2011 Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the previous attempt at an amphibious transport, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. The EFV’s cost and complexity had gotten out of control, because the Marines’ requirements for rapid movement ship-to-shore required the 40-ton armored vehicle to “plane” across the surface of the water like a speedboat. By contrast, the current LVTP-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) is a “displacement” vehicle that keeps its hull in the water like a conventional watercraft. But, said Amos, “you can only push the steel brick through the water so fast unless you get it up on plane.”

Nor has Amos given up on high speed, not yet. (He didn’t detail why, but Marines are deeply worried that, as anti-ship cruise missiles proliferate in so-called “anti-acess/area denial” defenses, future enemies will be able to keep the Navy so far off shore that existing amphibians couldn’t make it to the beach in time).

The Marines have already completed one formal analysis of alternatives (AOA), but Amos has told the two prime contractors, “one more time, give me your concept on a high-water-speed vehicle,” he said. “They’re going to tell me in the fall, and then shortly after the New Year begins in 2014, we’ll put out an RFP, request for proposal” – either for a slower “displacement” vehicle or a faster “planing” one, depending on what the budget can bear.

“I’m not naïve, cost is important to me,” Amos emphasized. “I need a good solid Ford F-150, I don’t need a Cadillac Escalade.”

Amos was reluctant to give precise figures for any of these economies – and in many cases they’re still being thrashed out, such as the price difference between the two types of ACV.

The one hard number the commandant would give was 8,000: That’s the number of active-duty Marines he’ll have to give up under sequestration. The Marine Corps was already coming down from a wartime high of 202,000 to 182,000 under pre-sequestraiton budget plans; the sequester would take it down to 174,000. (That’s all active-duty troops: The Marine Reserve didn’t grow for the war and it’s not being cut now, Amos said).

But the Marines who remain, Amos pledged, will be fully equipped, trained, and ready to go. Historically, Marine units averaged “about 80 percent [of authorized] equipment, 80 percent manning, probably abouty 60 percent readiness,” he said. “The truth of the matter is we weren’t already ready to go.”

That’s no longer acceptable, Amos said. Sequestration has taken a deep bite out of readiness in 2013 simply because “operations and maintenance” funds were the easiest to cut in a hurry, but going forward, Amos said, units will have 97 percent of their authorized personnel, 100 percent of their authorized equipment, and 100 percent of their O&M training money. Said Amos, “I may have fewer units, but by golly they’re going to be ready.”

Comments

  • TerryTee

    If the Marines are cutting squadrons of F-35B’s from their order, I can’t wait to see the new Price tag on a per unit basis. That will greatly increase the prices of the British and Italian planes, which will end up in fewer planes ordered by them, and even higher costs for us ultimately .

  • CharleyA

    Cutting a few more Caddies – F-35s and V-22s – then you can afford the JLTVs.

  • ELP

    Amos will fight to the last Joint Strike Fighter to keep that failed project as opposed to things the USMC actually need in the land combat area of things (their reason to exist).

    • TerryTee

      You are correct “ELP” Amos will sacrifice everything so they can have the “Junk Strike Fighter” which will never be able to live up to the HYPE. At about $295 Million ea, you can’t put them in “Harms Way” because you can’t afford to LOSE Them. With what just happened in Afghanistan with the total lose of 6 Harriers and 3-4 more seriously damaged. How can the Marines afford to lose almost $2 Billion worth of aircraft in 5 minutes by being forward deployed????

      • Gary Church

        “-the “Junk Strike Fighter” which will never be able to live up to the
        HYPE. At about $295 Million ea, you can’t put them in “Harms Way”
        because you can’t afford to LOSE Them.”

        Same for the V-22; it is all about the votes and shareholder checks. Not much to do with fighting a war.

  • Jack

    I think the pentagon is just putting out more scare tactics by claiming our military is under funded and never being combat ready because they see a few cuts coming down the road. America has been on a constant military buildup since Kennedy and always claimed it needs more and more. Most of the equipment the military replaces has not even been used. The corporate military industrial complex acts like vampires sucking up every dollar sign it can get it’s hands on. We need a military that is capable of defending our country not one to occupy the world. Close the overseas military bases and the military would have billions to spend without adding any more to their budget.

  • Sheri Wright

    so why are they still , recruiting? hmm its all BS scare tactics and of course with major drawndown in Afghanistan we will need less soldiers, screw it I want PEACE and I want the TROOPS HOME NOW

    • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

      You can have that. Be no problem for the moment. 10 or 20 years when something as Al Queda or the Taliban get firm control and a nuke under their head wraps then that peace will be shattered as never before. I would think the East or West coast so to enjoy peace a little longer maybe move to the middle of the states if not already living there.

    • The Gunny Ret

      Ya, That’s a Good Plan to keep us Free, We don’t want to spend to much money on Defense, and I guess We don’t really need a lot of Troops, You thinking maybe 300 or 400? Hell, they won’t be going anyplace, That will save us a bunch of money too.
      4 or 5 years down the road, It’ll be OK for us Guys, and I’m sure you’ll look really good in a burka, Well, We won’t really know, cause we’ll never see your face again!

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    Has the sequester affected any of the College grants to study stuff? Enough cutting by the gov on military leads to the militia’s thinking ‘maybe we can’ which will lead to the flag on the White House being replaced by a Friskies Cat bag. I’m sure stuff needs cut, Hell I need to cut stuff. But there’s bound to be a line when it becomes very dangerous as me cutting out food to eat 6 days a week. I don’t know about getting to shore super fast. If you got to get to the shore there should be so much firepower layed on the shore that you can stroll up to it in a rubber dingy. Of course in this day of tech I would think a shore we need to get on the vehicles moving towards it are not going to be missed by the enemy as China or Russia and basically will be a 40 ton sitting duck. This aint Normandy or Tarawa’s times.

  • Peter

    What is not covered is the USMC (mis)mangement of USMC programs…the cancelled EFV and the Expeditionary Fire Support System’s unarmored ITV which has a unit cost of around $273,000, which is MORE than the armored JLTV at $250,000! $273,000 is a lot for an unarmored “Jeep” that only has a few functions. The Army Rangers just use a Polaris ATV for towing their mortar for a fraction of the price.

    The EFV program…had the system worked and the issues addressed properly and fixed, the USMC would not be trying out another. Even DARPA held a contest to see if private industry could develop a EFV for a lot cheaper. The EFV program advanced from the AAAV program so the name change meant that the USMC had this program going for a long time. Even “Howe and Howe Tech” developed the “Ripsaw” amphibious concept-design tank and tested it. So this “EFV issue” has been addressed for a lot cheaper than by the defense industry, which now has to start from scratch. I mean there has been a lot of money already spent on the EFV speed concept. Rumor had it that the EFV had bad navigation software and steering…it couldn’t swim straight to the beach and instead veered off. Another issue is that the EFV wasn’t tested in a cold weather start.

    Oh, there are MANY weapon designs the USMC tested before or are mature “rady-to-buy-off-the-shelf” that could be in service and bought right now or back then if the USMC ever planned or wanted them…”Dragonfire” auto-loading mortar (tested and somehow stored away), Shadow Recon car, M1A2s, F-18E/Fs, S-92Ms, SLAMRAAM (CLAWS), loading the M777 on the bed of the MTVR to be like the French “Ceasar” 155mm, LAV-AD (only 17 bought), M8 AGS (tested and never went into production, but hey, if the USMC ever wanted a light tank much lighter than their M1A1s…), but somehow the USMC never did buy them for odd unknown reasons. I mean most of the above systems are “winning designs” that are ready now, tested, and they do work well, even better than some of the systems that the USMC bought instead (such as the EFSS ITV).

    It’s not so much a lack of money, but how that money was spent. I mean the Shadow recon car fits inside the V-22 and in ways if the USMC had them, they wouldn’t perhaps be so dependent on the JLTV or HMMWV retrofits.

  • PolicyWonk

    It seems the marines would rather be small and lethal than large and unready, which is what the USAF and Army seem to be doing (Navy remains to be seen, IMHO).

    To me, this strategy makes sense.

  • Lop_Eared_Galoot

    Better to send a bullet than a Marine. Which SHOULD define force mix. Because where the Klub-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3M-54_Klub

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbUU_9bOcnM

    Is a 190-250nm ranged weapon that, in theory, is ‘ideal for the hybrid, you are now pushing the MAGTF so far out into the blue that even the Tiltrotor is going to be on an hour+ total radius:return time (i.e. whatever is STOM’d in had better be able to hold it’s own if it gets bit in the high weeds because the battle will reach decision long before anyone can come play cavalry…) and by similar condition, ANY ACV-as-AAV type system is facing a ‘Funny’ situation-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DD_tank

    Whether it planes or no. Because tanks aren’t boats. Their buoyancy fraction as a function of armor density vs. residual internal air voids is way too low and their side area and lack of a vee keel to roll with the wave surge too large to be running then against quartering or beam seas.

    Which begs the question that Boyd tried to teach you fellas was THE KEY to understanding Marine combat power in the new millennium: Get Beyond The Beach. Yes, that is your (Sieze the SPOD) ‘core mission’ but /how/ you come at it dictates -what- you will to bypass as much as breach the whitewater.

    In this, I find it fascinating that, of all the gee-whiz-new-toys! platforms being mentioned, nobody has anything to say about this-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_CH-53K_Super_Stallion

    http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/AIR_CH-53E_Cobra_Gold_2002_lg.jpg

    Because, where the narrow fuselage (relatively speaking) and poor CG and loaded roll issues of the V-22 render it a glorified UH-1 as much as CH-46 and it is most assuredly NOT a vehicle transporter, it’s utility as a means to get WHEELS on the ground and DRIVE to the sound of gunfire is highly questionable.

    CH-53G (two engines) putting down two Wiesel tanks.

    http://www.g2mil.com/mak1.jpg

    CH-47 with 2-3 Gators in the back.

    http://www.militaryatv.com/images/vehicle-commander-ch47-1.jpg

    http://xbradtc.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/gator-m.jpg?w=500&h=375

    So, given we are talking about 170 knots and 35,000lbs of payload to only 110nm radius in a 110 million dollar platform, with each gator weighs less than a ton and each Wiesel less than 5, it’s time to stop thinking of this aircraft as a prime mover for artillery and logistics and start treating it as principle assault platform in Air Mech enabled campaigning.

    Put the MH-53E big sponsons on the sides and you have an instant 250nm radius with just a few of these lighter weight vehicles. Give those vehicles the JUMPER or SPIKE-ER in pintel or erectable VLS mounts as something like this-

    SPIKE-SR

    http://www.deagel.com/library1/medium/2008/m02008042000009.jpg

     

    Netfires as Jumper

    http://defense-update.com/images/NLOS-LSTruck.jpg

    Yes, at 25mph for the Gator and 35 for the Wiesel, they are not the fastest off road vehicles out there. But they are the best solution for the mission set which is to say: “Internal on the delivery platform and faster than a running man.” which is the no-mounted alternative here.

    Yet, given we are NOT going to be facing conventional forces in scenarios like D-Day or even Tarawa (because we don’t want to be facing the Chinese, on their own turf, that way), Recon Attack Platoons should be able to do the quick and nasty things we have to (disrupting comms, killing targeted individuals, blowing up key material assets) without flying in a battalion to do what one missile can.

    The sad part for me is that, in those situations where you need larger stabilization forces, the ‘threat’ is often not so much one of ‘will they shoot at the folks who came to help’ but rather ‘can we land damn gear in a harbor that just took a tsunami?’ In this, I would rather see amphibious docks with the ability to erect rapid pier-to-shore capability. And abandon the OTB as one beach too far.

    I mean, if CNN can meet you coming out of the waves in The Moge then it’s time to change deployment methods.

    An LHA with no boatwell can take more of the heavy lift helos as well as platforms like the E-2 using ‘full deck’ launch and recovery. Which is something to think about when the SM-2 has such poor performance against the Sizzler in terminal mode and the ESSM can handle it, kinematically, but is limited by SARH servicing windows.

    If the Marines are just -bound and determined- to pretend that they are ‘a force apart’, who don’t need 2 CVNs and 80 jets to support them, inshore, then they have to start thinking about both bypassing the amphibious beachhead op with higher tech and deeper reach. As well as the survivability measures they intended to implement on the HG&U forces which protect them. A Hawkeye cuing SM-6 ERAM or ESSM-II with ARH would be a very appropriate upgrade for the Pacific Rim, because 25 F-35B are going to be hard pressed to handle all the support mission calls which they WILL face, if you go to RW as Air Mech, beyond the beach.

    It will take a dense and nested (SM-6/ESSM/SeaRAM/LAWS/APS) air defense to survive the littorals in a Near Peer dominated regional hegemony. And that is one of the key reasons why the F-35B is a such a dumb idea. Because by the time you pay for it’s payload:range and signature (external carriage) penalties, you might as well accept the F-35C and a dual tramway carrier to bring full radius capabilities to the deep-strike in support of long-STOM.

    Since they are not going to be doing ‘fighter mission’ stuff anyway. They lack the numbers to even generate a useful FORCAP.

    and now you can hostage key assets without coming any closer the 25km. Give them CKEM and robotics along the the AMAP-ADS (capable of stopping APFSDS) as a followon for LOSAT and you can go toe to toe with heavy armor.

    Yes, at 25mph for the gator and 35 for the Wiesel, they are not the fastest off road vehicles out there. But they are the best solution for the mission set which is to say: “Internal on the delivery platform and faster than a running man.” which is the basic alternative here.

    Given we are NOT going to be facing conventional forces like D-Day or even Tarawa, Recon Attack Platoons should be able to do the quick and nasty things we have to (disrupting comms, killing targeted individuals, blowing up key material assets) without flying in a battalion to do what one missile can.

    The sad part for me is that, in those situations where you need larger stabilization forces, the ‘threat’ is often not so much one of ‘will they shoot at the folks who came to help’ but rather ‘can we land damn gear in a harbor that just took a tsunami?’ In this, I would rather see amphibious docks with the ability to erect rapid pier-to-shore capability. And abandon the OTB as one beach too far.

    I mean, if CNN can meet you coming out of the waves in The Moge then it’s time to change deployment methods.

    An LHA with no boatwell can take more of the heavy lift helos as well as platforms like the E-2 using ‘full deck’ launch and recovery. Which is something to think about when the SM-2 has such poor performance against the Sizzler in terminal mode and the ESSM can handle it, kinematically, but is limited by SARH servicing windows.

    If the Marines are just -bound and determined- to pretend that they are ‘a force apart’, who don’t need 2 CVNs and 80 jets to support them, inshore, then they have to start thinking about both bypassing the amphibious beachhead op with higher tech and deeper reach. As well as the survivability measures they intended to implement on the HG&U forces which protect them. A Hawkeye cuing SM-6 ERAM or ESSM-II with ARH would be a very appropriate upgrade for the Pacific Rim, because 25 F-35B are going to be hard pressed to handle all the support mission calls which they WILL face, if you go to RW as Air Mech, beyond the beach.

    It will take a dense and nested (SM-6/ESSM/SeaRAM/LAWS/APS) air defense to survive the littorals in a Near Peer dominated regional hegemony. And that is one of the key reasons why the F-35B is a such a dumb idea. Because by the time you pay for it’s payload:range and signature (external carriage) penalties, you might as well accept the F-35C and a dual tramway carrier to bring full radius capabilities to the deep-strike in support of long-STOM.

    Since they are not going to be doing ‘fighter mission’ stuff anyway. They lack the numbers to even generate a useful FORCAP.

    nd now you can hostage key assets without coming any closer the 25km. Give them CKEM and robotics along the the AMAP-ADS (capable of stopping APFSDS) as a followon for LOSAT and you can go toe to toe with heavy armor.

    Yes, at 25mph for the gator and 35 for the Wiesel, they are not the fastest off road vehicles out there. But they are the best solution for the mission set which is to say: “Internal on the delivery platform and faster than a running man.” which is the basic alternative here.

    Given we are NOT going to be facing conventional forces like D-Day or even Tarawa, Recon Attack Platoons should be able to do the quick and nasty things we have to (disrupting comms, killing targeted individuals, blowing up key material assets) without flying in a battalion to do what one missile can.

    The sad part for me is that, in those situations where you need larger stabilization forces, the ‘threat’ is often not so much one of ‘will they shoot at the folks who came to help’ but rather ‘can we land damn gear in a harbor that just took a tsunami?’ In this, I would rather see amphibious docks with the ability to erect rapid pier-to-shore capability. And abandon the OTB as one beach too far.

    I mean, if CNN can meet you coming out of the waves in The Moge then it’s time to change deployment methods.

    An LHA with no boatwell can take more of the heavy lift helos as well as platforms like the E-2 or even F-35C using ‘full deck’ launch and recovery. Which is something to think about when the SM-2 has such poor performance against the Sizzler in terminal mode and the ESSM can handle it, kinematically, but is limited by SARH servicing limits.

    If the Marines are just -bound and determined- to pretend that they are ‘a force apart’, who don’t need 2 CVNs and 80 jets to support them, inshore, then they have to start thinking about both bypassing the amphibious beachhead op with higher tech and deeper reach

    And enhancing their survivability measures via above-horizon cuing for the HG&U escorts which protect them.

    A Hawkeye cuing SM-6 ERAM or ESSM-II with ARH would be a very appropriate upgrade for the Pacific Rim, because 25 F-35B are going to be hard pressed to handle all the support mission calls which they WILL face, if you go to RW as Air Mech, beyond the beach.

    It will take a dense and nested (SM-6/ESSM/SeaRAM/LAWS/APS) air defense to survive the littorals in a Near Peer dominated regional hegemony. And that is one of the key reasons why the F-35B is a such a dumb idea.

    Because by the time you pay for the 35Bs inherent payload:range and signature (external carriage) penalties, you might as well accept the F-35C and a dual tramway light carrier to bring full radius capabilities to the deep-strike in support of long-STOM.

    Since they are not going to be doing ‘fighter mission’ stuff anyway (they lack the numbers to even generate a useful FORCAP) the Marines must both maximize standoff and redouble the range at which they can open the AAW battle, with missiles.

  • vstillwell

    These cuts don’t seem so draconian to me. We just spent 12 years at war. We have millions of disabled vets to take care of. It’s going to cost a fortune. These are the legacies of poorly planned wars with no defined outcomes other than invade and let’s see what happens.

    • ycplum

      I agree with the failure of our civilian leaders, however, I do believe the cuts are draconian. Not so much the amount cut, but how it is cut. All services have pointed out that they can make the cuts without loss of readiness if they were allowed to back end the cuts instead of the required 10% each year. They are saying they do not have time to shift expenditures and programs around without massive dislocation. Very often, the damage isn’t from the change, but the rapidity the change.

  • ziggy1988

    It’s too bad that the military will be gutted by sequestration.

    After all, America’s peace and security are kept by the Marine Corps, not the Peace Corps.

    • David S Lewis

      Nice fear mongering, you should actually try and research the subject.