Washington, D.C. – A new report released today by the Center for American Progress provides a worrisome look into the state the United States Marine Corps’ equipment and readiness. The comprehensive analysis, “Marine Corps Equipment After Iraq,” comes on the heels of the Marines recall to active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. This report agues that we can begin taking steps now to protect our troops and makes short- and long-term recommendations for a full Marine Corps equipment recovery.
The United States has understandably focused on the tremendous human costs of the war in Iraq, yet there are other costs that must be addressed as well. Earlier this year the Center for American Progress and the Lexington Institute compiled a report examining the impact of the war in Iraq on Army equipment. This report does the same for the Marine Corps, the other service that has borne the brunt of the occupation.
“Beyond the personal triumphs and tragedies the war has produced, there are larger issues of military performance and preparedness that must be addressed. Because Marine Corps equipment needs have been neglected in the past and the Iraq campaign has proved more protracted than anticipated, stresses are beginning to appear in the service’s capacity to supply its troops with the best warfighting tools available,” said Larry Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
The report found the projected cost of resetting and recovering the force to be expensive. Specifically, the cost of restoring the Marines’ ground and aviation equipment to its pre-Iraq level, as of the summer of 2006, will require $12 billion plus an additional $5 billion for each year the Marines remain in Iraq.
Max Bergmann, Research Associate at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report said, “The analysis and recommendations in this report point to the need for the Marines to adapt to the challenges caused by the war in Iraq.” He continued, “The costs of this war are not only measured by human lives but also the long-term effects on the readiness of the Marine Corps and its ability to carry out its mission throughout the world.”
- Congress should fully fund the Marine Corps’ request for $6.8 billion reset funding in fiscal year 2007, and should provide at least $5.3 billion for reset for each additional year the Marine Corps maintains a major presence in Iraq.
- The Marines should consider purchasing MH-60 Knight Hawk and H-92 Super Hawk helicopters to bridge the gap between the time the CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters wear out and the MV-22 Ospreys reach full operational status. This will also enable the Marines to hedge against the possibility that purchasing all of the planned 360 Ospreys will become unaffordable.
- Unless the defense top-line budget is changed, the Marines should receive an increase in their share of the Navy budget from 14 percent to 17 percent, and their overall share of the defense budget should increase from 4 percent to 5 percent.