GENERAL JAMES L. JONES
COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
JULY 12, 2001
Chairman Stump, Congressman Skelton, distinguished members of the Committee; it is my pleasure to report to you on the state of your Marine Corps. On behalf of all Marines and their families, I want to thank the Committee for its continued support. Your efforts to increase compensation and improve the quality of life of our young men and women in uniform have been central to the health of your Marine Corps and are deeply appreciated.
I believe the Committee is well familiar with the nature of the present international security landscape and the current state of our forces, so I will begin simply by noting some of the ways in which warfare has changed in the 21st Century. In the 20th Century, mass and volume were the primary methods relied upon to win wars. In their place, speed, stealth, precision, and sustainment have become the emergent principles of modern warfare.
These four principles have application from the strategic to the tactical levels. Furthermore, they are key with regard to how our forces maneuver and employ weapons as well as to how they exchange information and logistically sustain themselves. The Marine Corps' vision, accordingly, is to inculcate these principles into our doctrine, organization, training, equipment, and support. One indication of our commitment to do this, reflected in Marine Corps Strategy 21, is our concerted aim to enhance the strategic agility, operational reach, and tactical flexibility of our Marine Air-Ground Task Forces. Speed, stealth, precision, and sustainment are integral to each of these capabilities.
Indeed, we are revolutionizing our approach to operations with these 21st Century principles of war in mind. We are moving beyond the traditional amphibious assault operations which we conducted in the 20th Century. Our goal now is advanced, expeditionary operations from land and sea to both deter and respond to crises.
The Corps has been our nation's premier expeditionary force since our landing at Nassau in the Bahamas, two hundred and twenty-five years ago. Today, we have worldwide responsiveness and the versatility to undertake missions across the spectrum of operations. To Marines, the term "expeditionary" connotes more than a given capability. For us, it is a cultural mindset that conditions our Marines to be able to rapidly deploy with little advance warning and effectively operate with organic logistical support in austere environments. This is the basis of the Marine Corps' culture as well as an acknowledgement of the necessity to do more with less and to be prepared to fight and win with only the resources we bring with us, without the need to return to fixed bases for refitting or retraining.
A prime example of these attributes is resident within our medium weight Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). Nearly ten years ago, in light of pressing manpower considerations, we deactivated our six standing brigade command elements. Last year, we reestablished three Marine Expeditionary Brigades by embedding their staffs within our Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters. These units are now actively operating. The 1st MEB recently participated in operation NATIVE FURY, a humanitarian assistance mission in Kenya; 2d MEB has been integrated into contingency plans for Europe and Latin America; and, 3d MEB has conducted a maritime prepositioning shipping offload in Australia.
The versatility of the MEB is emblematic of the unique scalability of our Marine Air-Ground Task Forces. In size and capability, these brigades are midway between our Marine Expeditionary Units and our Marine Expeditionary Forces. Furthermore, our MEBs can either deploy on amphibious shipping or be airlifted into a theater of operations and join up with Maritime Prepositioning Forces.
A special characteristic of our Marine Air-Ground Task Forces is that they consist of five integrated elements: command; ground combat; aviation; logistics; and, supporting establishment. The MEB consists of a regimental landing team, with organic infantry, artillery, and armor elements, and in addition to a composite aircraft group with both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, it also has a combat service support group - whose supplies can sustain the MEB in full scale combat for thirty days. Each of these elements reinforces the others. This teamwork, built on training and experience, reaches across every battlefield function, creating a unique degree of synergy that distinguishes our units from others.
Ultimately, our vision of the future and our expeditionary culture, along with our philosophy of maneuver warfare, come together in our emerging capstone concept, Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare. Achieving the full promise of that concept will hinge on our efforts to balance the competing demands of near-term readiness and investment in equipment modernization and infrastructure. This is no small task. These over-arching concerns are interrelated and in the long-term we cannot have one without the others.
In order to improve our near-term readiness, we have made significant internal adjustments over the past two years. Through reduction in attrition of our first term Marines, internal management efficiencies, outsourcing, and privatization, we will eventually return approximately 4,000 Marines to the operating forces. We are also utilizing numerous best business practices to make our operations both efficient and effective and now have the largest Activity-Based Costing/Management program in the Department of Defense, if not all of government. While these efforts have improved the efficient application of fiscal and manpower resources, and directly supported our commitment to personnel readiness in the operating forces, we are still assessing the totality of our personnel requirement. Should a need for additional personnel be determined, we are confident that commensurate funding and our continued recruiting and retention successes will support any required increase.
Despite such efficiencies, we are, regrettably, continuing to maintain our near-term readiness at the expense of our modernization. During the past decade, the nation has consistently limited the resources dedicated to its national security. Consequently, the dramatic increases in operational requirements coupled with imposed constraints have mandated a substantively reduced rate of investment in equipment modernization and infrastructure. We are, in fact, at a point where we can no longer fail to rectify these shortfalls. As a nation with global responsibilities, we cannot ignore the critical importance of readiness.
The Fiscal Year 2002 budget submitted by the President proposes increased funding for military pay and entitlements, health care benefits, flying hours, base and station utilities, depot maintenance, strategic lift, essential base operating support costs, and force protection requirements. The Administration also provided increased funding for one of our most underfunded areas - our infrastructure. Additional funds provided in this budget will allow us to begin to address badly needed family housing requirements at Camp Pendleton, California, and bachelor enlisted quarters at various locations. These are of great importance to our readiness. Nevertheless, I remain concerned about the level of investment in our infrastructure and equipment modernization. For example, the FY 2002 budget does not include increases for ground equipment modernization.
We assess our readiness in terms of "four pillars:" Marines and their families; our infrastructure; our legacy equipment systems; and, our transformation and modernization efforts. Each of these pillars requires attention and resources in order to ensure your Corps is prepared to serve our nation's interests. I will discuss each of the pillars and comment on what we are currently doing and what we want to do with the support of this Committee, beginning with the most important part of the Marine Corps, its people.
Our Marines and Their Families
The Marine Corps has three major goals: making America's Marines; winning our nation's battles; and, creating quality citizens. The fact that people are the focus of two of these three goals exemplifies the extent to which we recognize the special trust and confidence that the nation reposes in us for the care and welfare of the young men and women in our charge.
Safety is central to the Corps' focus on people and it is a critical component of maintaining our readiness. It is also a vital element of the quality of life that we provide our Marines and their families. Along these lines, I am pleased to report that we have significantly lowered our off-duty mishap rates. Moreover, we have had notable success in aviation safety: our Class "A" flight mishap rate is the lowest it has ever been at this point in the Fiscal Year. For these trends to continue, it will take our unrelenting attention and we are dedicated to maintaining our focus on this important issue.
One factor contributing to our safety challenge is that we are a young force. The average age of our Marines is twenty-three, roughly seven to nine years younger than the average age of the members of the other services. This is part of the culture of the Corps inasmuch as our unique force structure results in 68 percent of our Marines being on their first enlistment at any one time. The nature of our force structure requires us to annually recruit 39,000 men and women into our enlisted ranks. To fill this tremendous demand, our recruiters work tirelessly and have consistently met our accession goals in quality and quantity for six consecutive years as of the end of June 2001.
Retention is as important as recruiting. We are proud that we are meeting our retention goals across nearly all military occupational specialties. Intangibles - such as the desire to serve the nation, to belong to a cohesive organization, and to experience leadership responsibilities through service in the Corps - are a large part of the reason we can retain the remarkable men and women who choose to remain on active duty. Concrete evidence of this phenomena is seen in our deployed units, which continually record the highest reenlistment rates in the Corps. The Selective Reenlistment Bonus Program (SRB) has been an additional, powerful tool to meet our retention goals. The increases for the SRB Program as well as the targeted pay raise initiative found in the President's budget will go a long way toward assisting in meeting our retention goals and helping take care of our Marines and their families. Retention success is also partly a consequence of the investment we make in supporting our operational forces - to give our Marines what they need to do their jobs in the field when they are deployed - as well as the funds we earmark for educating and training our Marines.
While we recruit Marines, we retain families. As noted earlier, the effectiveness of our Marines is dependent, in large measure, on the support they receive from their loved ones. Our families are indeed vital to our readiness. Increased pay as well as improved housing and health care directly influence our families' quality of life and, in turn, bolster the readiness of our units. Your support of our families' quality of life has contributed greatly to our retention success. However, the rising costs of rent, utilities, and fuel require continued annual increases in pay and Basic Allowance for Housing. Furthermore, we need to provide and maintain those essential support systems that benefit and protect Marines and their families, especially accessible and responsive health care. We are extremely thankful, Mr. Chairman, for the recent enactment of much-needed improvements to the TRICARE system for our active duty personnel and for our retired veterans. The President's budget includes further improvements in this area which we expect to make a significant difference in retention, morale, and readiness.
Beyond providing for our families, your support in allocating and sustaining resources for our bases and stations has had a profound impact on our readiness. Bases and stations are the launching pads and recovery platforms for our deployed units and thus are integral parts of our operating forces. Hence, we want to ensure that our posts possess the infrastructure and ranges necessary to prepare our Marines for the wide variety of contingencies they can expect to confront. Equally important, they are sanctuaries for many of our families. Moreover, just as our bases and stations are vital to our current readiness, the recapitalization of our infrastructure is as important to our warfighting strength in the future as is modernization.
Thirty-five percent of our infrastructure is over 50 years old. Our supporting infrastructure - water and sewage systems, bridges, and roads - is antiquated and decaying. Though we slowed the growth of backlog of maintenance and repair (BMAR) at our bases and stations to approximately $650 million this fiscal year, it rises to $687 million in FY 2002 and averages approximately $660 million across the remainder of the Future Years Defense Plan - far exceeding the goal of $106 million set for FY 2010.
Although the increases provided in the President's budget begin to address this problem, I remain concerned. Prior to this budget, our military construction replacement cycle exceeded 100 years compared to a commercial industry standard of approximately 50 years. While this budget allows us to attain an approximately 60 year cycle of military construction replacement in FY 2002, the average recapitalization rate remains nearly 100 years across the balance of the Future Years Defense Plan.
In more specific terms, approximately half of our family housing units are inadequate, and we have a shortage of nearly 9,000 homes in FY 2001. The budget submitted by the Administration allows us to revitalize our current inventory and to accelerate the eradication of substandard housing which is our first priority in this regard. Additional funding for both base-housing construction and the elimination of out-of-pocket housing costs for Marines that live off-base will allow us to reduce our family housing deficit by 20 percent within four years.
On a separate note concerning our infrastructure, we are increasingly finding that many forms of encroachment upon our bases and stations threaten to degrade our readiness. When most of our bases and stations were established, they were distant from civilian population centers. Today, population growth and commercial development have not merely reached our installations, they have enveloped them. There are two major ramifications of this phenomenon. The first is that our bases and stations often are the last remaining wilderness zones in otherwise over-developed areas - which has meant that we have to balance our training requirements with our increasing responsibilities as environmental stewards. The second consequence is that we are now obliged to routinely deal with a wide variety of complaints, mostly regarding noise or flight patterns, from those citizens who have chosen to live in close proximity to our bases and stations.
Such concerns about sea, land, and airspace utilization have necessitated close coordination and frequent compromise with many elements of the civilian sector. Accordingly, we work diligently to be good neighbors and try to accommodate the demands of environmental protection and concerns of adjoining communities without degrading training and the mission effectiveness of our Marines. Despite this focus, encroachment issues have the potential to increasingly affect readiness in the years ahead. We need your continued support to ensure that the growing complexity and expense of encroachment issues do not hamstring our efforts to conduct meaningful training in order to provide for national security.
Our Legacy Equipment Systems
Our present and future readiness does not rest solely on the investments we make in our personnel and infrastructure. We also must consider the equipment we give our Marines. This is no simple task. We must apportion our allotted resources between maintaining the ability to respond to crises and the requirement to lay the foundation for our capacity to respond to the security challenges of the future.
As a consequence of the procurement pause of the 1990s, many of our weapons, vehicles, aircraft, and support systems are approaching or have already reached block obsolescence. In the last decade, we have watched the size of our forces decline while the number of contingencies has increased. Under these circumstances, our equipment has been put under tremendous stress. We are devoting ever-increasing amounts of time conducting preventive and corrective maintenance as well as spending more and more money on spare parts to repair our legacy equipment. The limited availability of spare parts has put additional strain on these efforts. Our procurement programs seek to address this concern, but we are acutely aware that the acquisition process is often a slow enterprise. As a result, our legacy equipment systems and our efforts to maintain them will remain central to the readiness of our Marine Air-Ground Task Forces until our modernization programs replace those aging pieces of equipment.
This situation is particularly acute in our aviation combat element. In fact, the majority of our primary rotary-wing airframes are over twenty-five years old and in turn they are older than many of the Marines who fly aboard them. Another illustration of the advanced age of our airframes is that our KC-130Fs are 19 years past planned retirement. When our first KC-130F rolled off the assembly line, President Kennedy was beginning his first year as the Commander-in-Chief. Likewise, our CH-46Es and CH-53Ds are more than thirty years old, and the average age of our CH-53Es is 12 years. Some of our younger pilots are flying the same aircraft that their fathers flew.
The challenges associated with the failure of parts on older aircraft, diminishing manufacturing sources, and long delays in parts delivery all place demands on readiness. Since 1995, the direct maintenance man-hours per hour of flight has increased by 16% and our "cannibalization" rate has increased by 24%. During the same time period, the full mission capable rate, though still within acceptable parameters, decreased by almost 17% across the force. While recent increases provided by the Administration for Program Related Engineering and Program Related Logistics (PRE/PRL) are extremely helpful, modernization will ultimately relieve the strain being placed on these older airframes, as it will do for our ground combat and combat service support elements as well.
Transformation and Modernization
We recognize that we cannot know for certain what missions and threats we will face in the future, and that, as a result, we need to focus our efforts in such a way as to provide America with weapons platforms that are flexible and robust enough to allow her Marines to excel across the wide spectrum of tasks and environments that they may encounter. The Corps' efforts to enhance its capabilities can be broadly described in terms of transformation and modernization. On one hand, transformation programs are intended to achieve fundamental advances in capabilities by exploiting leap-ahead technologies. On the other hand, modernization programs represent more modest efforts to yield incremental improvements to our equipment systems. Examples of the transformational programs that the Marine Corps is pursuing are the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle, V-22 Osprey, Joint Strike Fighter, Naval Precision Fires, and Integrated Logistics Capabilities. Key modernization programs include the KC-130J, Lightweight 155mm Howitzer, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, and amphibious shipping.
Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle. The award winning Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle program is the Corps' highest ground acquisition priority and promises to allow high-speed surface maneuver from ship-to-shore as well as on land. Importantly, these vehicles will be able to deploy to their objectives from over the visual horizon, which will allow our ships to remain beyond the range of many threat weapons and surveillance systems. This capability will help negate an enemy's anti-access strategies and enable expeditionary operations from the sea.
V-22 Osprey. The Osprey remains the Corps' premier near-term aviation acquisition priority. Tiltrotor technology promises to revolutionize aviation and the V-22 will radically increase our strategic airlift, operational reach, and tactical flexibility. The Osprey's superior range, speed, and payload will allow us to accomplish combat missions and other operations from distances previously unattainable and at faster response times than possible with other airframes.
We are acutely aware of the challenges associated with the Osprey but are gratified that the Review Panel, appointed by then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen, concluded that tiltrotor technology is mature and that the V-22 promises to become a true national asset. Though the panel also determined the aircraft's reliability and maintainability must be improved, it noted that the V-22 will provide the Marine Corps with capabilities that cannot be provided by any single helicopter or conventional aircraft. Indeed, the Panel's conclusions mirror those of seven major cost and operational effectiveness analyses and the fact that the tiltrotor XV-15 has been flying since 1977.
We are presently in the process of ensuring that the V-22 is reliable, operationally suitable, and affordable - just as we did forty years ago with each of the aircraft the Osprey is intended to replace. Currently, 85 reliability and maintainability improvements have been incorporated, or are on contract for incorporation, on the Osprey's production line - out of the 120 identified. With time, diligence, the close cooperation of our partners in industry, and with the support of the Congress, we can work through the present challenges confronting us and achieve the tremendous operational capabilities offered by this remarkable aircraft. We are hopeful that the program's needed changes and improvements will be funded at the most economical rate of production in the FY 2003 budget.
As has always been the case, our actions will be guided by an unyielding commitment to do what is right for our Marines, their families, and our nation. In asking for your support, I assure you that we will not compromise our integrity or jeopardize the safety of our Marines for any program.
Joint Strike Fighter. Another aviation transformational effort of great importance is the Joint Strike Fighter. The Joint Strike Fighter is, first and foremost, a product of Congressional guidance from the 1980s. At the time, each service routinely produced a large number of different, service-specific airframes. Congress, therefore, asked the Department of Defense and industry to develop airframes that could be used more commonly by each of the services. The Joint Strike Fighter is the first step in that direction. The Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing variant promises to combine the current basing flexibility of the AV-8 Harrier with the multi-role capabilities, speed, and maneuverability of the F/A-18 Hornet and will fulfill both the Marine Corps' air-to-ground and air-to-air mission requirements. It will also incorporate both stealth and standoff precision guided weapon technology. Just as the Joint Strike Fighter has transformational operational potential, it also holds remarkable promise for our industrial base and our nation's economy. Considering the fact that many of our allies have expressed interest in becoming partners in the program, this aircraft has the potential to bolster our defense industrial base to a degree similar to that achieved by the F-16 Fighting Falcon over the past twenty-five years. There is no other tactical aviation program with so much potential for satisfying national and international requirements in the first half of this century. The JSF program preserves our leadership role on the global stage in tactical aviation.
Naval Precision Fires. Marine Corps expeditionary capabilities are intrinsically linked to those of our partners, the U.S. Navy. One illustration of this, among many, is that naval precision fires are an essential dimension of our power projection capabilities. Yet, today the available resources for naval fire support are inadequate. Efforts to upgrade current naval surface fires capabilities are focused on modifications to the existing Mark 45 gun mount as well as the development of an advanced gun system, extended range guided munitions, and the Land Attack Standard Missile. Taken together, these planned enhancements will dramatically improve the range, responsiveness, accuracy, and lethality of the naval surface fire support provided to forces ashore.
Integrated Logistics Capabilities. We are also pioneering Integrated Logistics Capabilities to transform our combat service support. In this effort, we are analyzing with the help of academia the manner in which military logistics can be altered to make our supply chain more responsive and better integrated with the operating forces. Tangible savings have already been realized by consolidating selected unit supply responsibilities at the retail level and we are looking to further reengineer our methodologies. With the use of new technologies and practices, proven in the private sector, the Corps will, in essence, create a "new order" for its logistics enterprise and undertake the revolutionary changes necessary to ensure that it continues to be the premier fighting force in the world.
KC-130J. Replacement of our aging KC-130 fleet with KC-130J aircraft is necessary to ensure the viability and deployability of Marine Corps Tactical Air and Assault Support well into the 21st Century. The KC-130J's performance features include increased cruise airspeed, night vision compatible interior and exterior lighting, enhanced rapid ground refueling capability, digital avionics, and powerful propulsion systems. These strengths promise lower life-cycle expenses and eliminate the need for costly KC-130F/R Service Life Extension Programs. With the KC-130J, our aerial refueling fleet will be ready to support the tremendous increase in capabilities that the Osprey and the Joint Strike Fighter promise to provide for our Marine Air-Ground Task Forces.
Lightweight 155mm Howitzer. A number of ground weapon system programs are also of great interest to us. The Lightweight 155mm Howitzer is our first priority in this regard. The Lightweight 155 is a joint Marine-Army program that meets or exceeds all the requirements of the current M198 Howitzer while reducing the weight of an individual artillery piece from 16,000 to 9,000 pounds. This lower weight allows for tactical lift by both the CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter and the V-22. Moreover, the digitization of this platform will greatly reduce response time and increase accuracy. I am pleased to note that the four minor technical discrepancies - concerning the spade, spade latch, recoil dampener, and optical sight - identified by the General Accounting Office have each been corrected. The first Engineering Manufacturing Development guns have passed all contractor testing and been accepted by the Department of Defense for subsequent evaluation. A production decision should be reached in September of next year.
High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. Also integral to our plans to improve our fire support is the acquisition of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). This system is designed to be rapidly deployable as a key part of our expeditionary operations. It will fire both precision and area munitions, as well as extend our ground-based fire support umbrella to 45 kilometers. HIMARS's tactical mobility, small logistics footprint, and capacity to deliver heavy volume fires against time-sensitive targets will, in conjunction with the Lightweight 155, at last remedy the fire support shortfall we have known for much of the last two decades.
Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement. The Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement is at the heart of Combat Service Support modernization and will provide our forces improved sustainment and permit maximum flexibility in responding to crises. The vehicle's weight and height allow it to be transported internally by the KC-130 Hercules aircraft and externally by the CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter. The Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement can readily negotiate terrain twice as rough as our current vehicles can, and it has increased payload, speed, and reliability.
Amphibious Shipping. Our military presence around the world is the framework that enables the application of the other elements of our national power - political, economic, diplomatic, cultural, and technological - to cultivate stability overseas. Yet in the 21st Century, our forward land-basing options are not likely to increase and may even decline and, as a result, U.S. forces will rely less on large fixed bases overseas to fulfill America's global responsibilities. It is myopic, given the history of the 20th Century, to think we can deter or defeat aggression on the global playing field solely with capabilities based in the United States. It has been proven many times over that presence in the operating area will be essential to our prosecution of a successful strategy. More specifically, it is going to take a sea-based presence in the operating area, a formation of joint assets that together project and sustain combat power ashore while reducing or eliminating our landward footprint. In the future, U.S. forces are going to increasingly deploy and sustain operations either from our sea-bases or our homeland.
Despite the fact that the enduring requirements of global sea control, strategic deterrence, naval forward presence, and maritime power projection have not declined, the United States Navy's fleet of ships has shrunk in number by 23 percent in the last decade. The requirement for our amphibious shipping, which has been under-resourced, remains the linchpin of the Corps' ability to influence the international security landscape, project power, and protect the nation's interest during crises. Simply put, virtual presence amounts to actual absence where global events are concerned. We cannot afford absence, which will likely result in vacuums that could be filled by those at odds with our national interests.
We are grateful for your support to replace four classes of older ships with the new LPD 17 San Antonio amphibious ship class. The delivery of these twelve ships to the fleet is programmed to be complete at the end of the decade. However, we remain concerned about schedule slippage in the LPD-17 program. Such delays are unacceptable and must be avoided. Likewise, we should also be concerned with replacing the LHD Wasp class ships. Considering the extended time-frame for ship design, construction, and delivery we need to ensure now that we are ready to replace the Wasp class when they reach the end of their 35 year service life starting in 2011.
Today's amphibious ship force structure, when the number of active fleet vessels is combined with reserve ships that can be mobilized, has the capacity to lift nearly two and a half Marine Expeditionary Brigade assault echelon equivalents. It has long been recognized that we require an amphibious ship force structure capable of simultaneously lifting the assault echelons of three Marine Expeditionary Brigades. I strongly recommend that we commit to redress this shortfall as a matter of urgent priority.
The leases of our current fleet of maritime prepositioning ships (MPS) will expire in FY 2009 and FY 2011. The development of advanced maritime prepositioning capabilities will significantly increase the strength and flexibility of our sea-based expeditionary operations. The marriage of a modern amphibious fleet with maritime prepositioning shipping capable of hosting at-sea arrival and assembly of forces will eliminate the requirement for access to secure ports and airfields, and give our nation an unmatched asymmetrical advantage in projecting power. The mobility and dispersion inherent to this future sea-basing concept promises to provide survivability far greater than that afforded by fixed land bases and will give us a revolutionary power projection advantage for many decades.
Looking ahead, the programs we have planned will, with your support, begin to converge in our operating forces in 2008. In the not distant future, the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle, V-22 Osprey, Joint Strike Fighter, KC-130J, Lightweight 155, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, Naval Surface Fire Support, amphibious shipping, and a number of other smaller programs will together dramatically transform our expeditionary capabilities. As discussed earlier, these systems promise to embody speed, stealth, precision, and sustainment as well as afford us modern agility, mobility, and lethality. But, we cannot stop here. We must work together with the Navy and our defense industrial base to exploit other opportunities to advance our capabilities in the future.
Continuous transformation and modernization are key to our long-term national interest; without them, we will fail to keep pace with change. The Marine Corps has an institutional tradition of such innovation and is expeditionary by nature, while being transformational by design. We view transformation as an evolutionary process, not a singular event.
Training and Education
People, not systems, are the fundamental component of the Corps. Just as we are continually striving to evolve our doctrine, equipment, and supporting establishment so that we can better win our nation's battles, we are also constantly moving forward to improve how we train and educate our Marines.
We believe the old adage, "you fight the way you train." Because of this, our training exercises are becoming ever more Joint and Combined in order to provide our Marines with the experience that they will need when they are called upon to respond to crises - because there is no doubt that they will work alongside our sister services and partners from other nations in such circumstances. Moreover, we recognize that while our first duty is to be ready to win our nation's battles, we are increasingly called on to execute missions at the lower end of the spectrum of operations. Accordingly, our exercise scenarios emphasize both conventional warfighting missions as well as operations other than war.
Experience in tandem with education is the best foundation for dealing with both difficulty and fortuity. Accordingly, we are not only focused on training our Marines, but on educating them as well. We have expanded our distance learning programs to ensure that greater numbers of Marines have the opportunity for education, not merely those who attend resident courses. In light of this, we are adjusting administrative policies to accommodate family concerns - such as spouses with careers or children with exceptional needs - when selecting officers to attend our various schools that require a change in duty station. We have instituted a "year-out program" for our junior officers and SNCOs, within the corporate world, think-tanks, and the Congress. This will widen perspectives and provide valuable experiences which will bolster our Marines capacity to innovate and adapt in the years to come.
Our Marine Warrior Culture
At the very heart of the Corps and its relationship to each Marine is our service culture. The Marine Corps is sui generis - that is, we have a nature that is distinct from all others. This goes beyond the unique characteristics of our expeditionary Marine Air-Ground Task Forces which are always prepared to be deployed overseas. It, in fact, pertains to our warrior ethos. From the individual Marine to our institution as a whole, our model is the thinking and stoic warrior who fights more intelligently than his enemy and is inured to hardship and challenges.
Our commitment to maintaining our warrior culture is illustrated by our recently instituted martial arts program. We have developed a discipline unique to the Corps and are in the process of training every Marine in its ways. This program seeks to promote both physical prowess and mental discipline. Successive levels of achievement are rewarded with different colored belts reflecting a combination of demonstrated character, judgment, and physical skill. This training will benefit Marines in the missions we face; especially in peacekeeping and peacemaking operations where physical stamina and mental discipline are often vital. At its heart, our martial arts training is fundamentally concerned with mentoring our young men and women to understand that the keys to mission accomplishment often are a matter of using intelligence, strength, and self-control to influence circumstances, rather than always resorting to the application of deadly force. In this regard, our martial arts training supports our pursuit of non-lethal alternatives.
Under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, each of America's Armed Services has a different set of responsibilities, separate operating roles, and institutional structures that give every service a culture that is distinct from the others. Indeed, such cultural diversity should be considered a force multiplier. Consequently, "one-size fits all" policies are not often the best solutions in the Department of Defense, despite the importance of our on-going work to be fully joint in the conduct of operations. It is important to understand how the differences between the services may sometimes require separate and service-specific means of accomplishing universal goals such as promoting the quality of life of our people.
The recently enacted PersTempo Program is an example of a requirement that is likely to impact each of the services differently. The 2001 National Defense Authorization Act mandated that any service member deployed more than 400 days in two years receive $100 for each additional deployment day. While the larger services may be capable of managing the restriction placed on deployments and the additional costs associated with this requirement, the policy runs counter to the Corps' rotationally deployed, expeditionary force identity.
Our young men and women join the Corps to make a difference, to challenge themselves, and are prepared to deploy in service of our country. The testament to this is our success in recruiting and retention: the "acid-test" of any service culture. Our young Marines and their families understand that our forward presence and expeditionary deployments are the core expression of our warrior culture. It is why they are Marines. And, in turn, though the PersTempo Program may be appropriate for the other services, its present construct does not comport with the Corps' culture and missions. The policy may in fact have the unintended consequences of having a profoundly deleterious effect on our cohesion, capabilities, training, and budget. As a consequence we are now conducting a study to analyze how we can better manage our personnel tempo and still meet our operational requirements while remaining true to our culture and our fiscal constraints.
One of the clearest indicators that people are our first priority is that approximately sixty percent of the Marine Corps budget is allotted to funding manpower programs. Yet, this fact also emphasizes the relative state of the other pillars of readiness, especially transformation and modernization; which have been underfunded for most of the past decade. The Marine Corps has long prided itself on being able to do more with less. Nothing reflects this more clearly than the fact that the Corps provides twenty percent of our nation's expeditionary ground and aviation combat force for six percent of the Department of Defense budget.
Just as the other services have pursued plans to reorganize from a Cold War posture to one that matches the post-Cold War world, the Corps, too, has adapted itself to the challenges and opportunities that have emerged during the last ten years. I want to underscore that the Marine Corps intends to remain our nation's premier expeditionary combined arms force with modernized sustainment capabilities. That identity is central to who we are as Marines.
With that firmly in mind, the Corps has carefully plotted a course for the future. Indeed, if the programs we have currently planned are properly funded, we will see a convergence of transformation and modernization capabilities in our Marine Air-Ground Task Forces starting in 2008 that will revolutionize our expeditionary operations.
While our nation's current strategy and force structure may change, it is clear that a sustained increase in resources will yield the operational strength, flexibility, and resilience we envision in both the short and the long-term. With regard to the Marine Corps, an increased investment of approximately $1.8 to $2 billion a year sustained for the next eight to ten years - a modest step that is less than one percent of what is allotted to the overarching national security budget - will permit us to achieve our vision and deliver a Marine Corps, in partnership with the U.S. Navy, which will be capable of defending America's global national security interests in the 21st Century. Such an investment addresses our warfighting readiness requirements, accelerates the pace of our transformation and modernization, and recapitalizes our infrastructure. The FY 2002 plus-ups provided by the Administration during budget wrap-up reduced our unfunded requirements by approximately $400 million. With your consistent support we can achieve our goals and provide our nation with a Marine Corps that will be well on the road to dramatically transformed expeditionary capabilities.
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