The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) is the nation’s expeditionary armed force, positioned and ready to respond to crises around the world. Marine units assigned aboard ships (“soldiers of the sea”) or at bases abroad stand ready to project U.S. power into crisis areas. Marines also serve in a range of unique missions, from combat defense of U.S. embassies abroad under attack to operating the President’s helicopter fleet.

Although Marines have a wide variety of individual assignments, the focus of every Marine is on combat: Every Marine is first a rifleman. The USMC has positioned itself for crisis response and has evolved its concepts to leverage its equipment more effectively to support operations in a heavily contested maritime environment such as the one found in the Western Pacific. Worldwide, over 35,000 Marines are forward deployed and engaged.1Despite the drawdown of forces, in 2015, “Marines executed approximately 100 operations, 20 of them amphibious, 140 security cooperation activities with our partners and allies, and 160 major exercises” in addition to providing embassy security and short-term reinforcement of posts.2

Pursuant to the Defense Strategic Guidance (DSG), maintaining the Corps’ crisis response capability is critical. Thus, given the fiscal constraints imposed, the Marines have prioritized “near-term readiness” at the expense of other areas, such as capacity, capability, modernization, home station readiness, and infrastructure.3 This trade-off is a short-term fix to meet immediate needs: Over the longer term, the degradation of investment in equipment will lead to lowered readiness.

Capacity

The Marine Corps has managed the reduction in funding by cutting capacity. The Corps’ measures of capacity are similar to the Army’s: end strength and units (battalions for the Marines and brigades for the Army). End strength has been decreased from a force of 202,100 Active personnel in fiscal year (FY) 20124 to roughly 184,000 in FY 2016.5 In FY 2016, the Marine Corps requested a pause in capacity cuts (to remain at an end strength of 184,000) in order to reduce the “impact on deployment to dwell ratios” and “assess the impact of its four[-]year drawdown.”6 The drawdown will resume in FY 2017, to reach an “enduring” end strength of 182,000 Active personnel funded entirely from the base budget.7 Although the Bipartisan Budget Act gave the military partial, temporary relief from budget cuts, according to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, a return to BCA spending caps in FY 2018 remains the “greatest risk to the Department of Defense.”8 The DOD estimated in 2014 that if sequestration-level cuts occurred in FY 2016, Marine Corps end strength would be cut further to 175,000 by FY 2017.9With a force of that size, the USMC would be unable to meet the requirements of the DSG and according to General Joseph Dunford, recently Commandant of the Marine Corps, a new strategy would need to be developed.10

The Marine Corps organizes itself in infantry battalions, which are its basic combat unit. A battalion has about 900 Marines and includes three rifle companies, a weapons company, and a headquarters and service company. The Marine Corps maintained 23 Active infantry battalions in FY 2016,11down from 25 in FY 2014 and 27 in FY 2012.12 Funding at the requested levels for FY 2017 supports an increase to 24 Active infantry battalions after a one-year delay from the FY 2016 force structure plan.13 However, under full sequestration, USMC end strength would be able to support only 21 infantry battalions,14 which, according to General Dunford, would leave the Corps “with fewer active duty battalions and squadrons than would be required for a single major contingency.”15 It should be noted that the service was able to field only 23 battalions in 2016, although funding was to have been sufficient for 24.

Marine Aviation units have been particularly stressed by insufficient funding. Although operational requirements have not decreased, fewer Marine aircraft are available for tasking or training. For example, the number of active component squadrons (including both fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft) decreased from 58 in 2003 to 55 in 2015.16 Another way to look at this decline is through tactical air squadrons, which include the strike fighter and close air support aircraft in the USMC inventory. In July 2016, USMC Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lieutenant General Jon M. Davis explained, “right now, we’re at 20 [tactical] air squadrons and we, like the Air Force, came down after Desert Storm.”17 General Davis added that the USMC had around 28 tactical air squadrons during that military engagement.

The number of available aircraft continues to decline as procurement of the F-35B and MV-22 struggles to keep pace with the decommissioning of aging aircraft squadrons, high operational tempos, and maintenance backlogs that have limited the number of Ready Basic Aircraft (RBA) for training and operational requirements.18 The MV-22 has not yet been delivered in sufficient quantities to offset the retirement of the CH-46, resulting in a temporary reduction in vertical lift capacity.19 Two additional MV-22 squadrons are planned for procurement in FY 2017.20 Moreover, “shortages in aircraft availability due to increased wear on aging aircraft and modernization delays”21 have led the Marine Corps to reduce the requirement of aircraft per squadron for the F/A-18, CH-53E, and AV-8B temporarily in order to provide additional aircraft for home station training.22 Approximately 80 percent of Marine Corps aviation units are experiencing shortages below the minimum number of RBA required for training.23 Any reduction in Marine aviation capability has a direct effect on overall Corps combat capability, as the Corps usually fights with its ground and aviation forces integrated as Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs).

Additionally, the current inventory of non-commissioned officers and staff non-commissioned officers does not meet USMC force structure requirements. This will pose readiness challenges for the Corps as the shortage of “small unit leaders with the right grade, experience, technical skills and leadership qualifications” grows.24

In 2010, the USMC determined that its ideal force size would be 186,800 in light of the requirements of the President’s National Security Strategy.25 However, given the budget pressures from the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and the newer 2012 DSG, the Corps decided that a force size of “182,100 active component Marines could still be afforded with reduced modernization and infrastructure support.”26

One impact of reduced capacity is a reduction in dwell time. The stated ideal deployment-to-dwell (D2D) time ratio is 1:3 (seven months deployed for every 21 months at home), which is possible with 186,000 troops.27 The “fundamental difference” between that optimal force size and an active end strength of 182,000 is a lower D2D ratio of 1:2, which translates to roughly seven-month deployments separated by stretches of 14 months at home.28 Under current budget constraints, some individuals and even whole units with critical skills “are operating in excess of a 1:2 (D2D) ratio.”29 A return to BCA-level budget caps in FY 2018 could reduce capacity even further, and the dwell ratio for the Marine Corps could fall to 1:1.30 This increase in deployment frequency would exacerbate the degradation of readiness, as people and equipment would be used more frequently with less time to recover between deployments.

Capability

The nature of the Marine Corps’ crisis response role requires capabilities that span all domains. The USMC ship requirement is managed by the Navy and is covered in the Navy’s section of the Index. The Marine Corps is focusing on “essential modernization” and emphasizing programs that “underpin our core competencies,”31 making the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programs its top two priorities.32

Of the Marine Corps’ current fleet of vehicles, its amphibious vehicles—specifically, the Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV-7A1) and Light Armored Vehicle (LAV)—are the oldest, with the AAV-7A1averaging over 40 years old33 and the LAV averaging 25 years old.34 The AAV-7A1 is currently undergoing survivability upgrades, with the first round of upgrades (AAV SU) delivered to U.S. Marine Corps Base Quantico on March 4.35 These upgrades will help to bridge the capability gap until the fielding of the ACV. Comparatively, the Corps’ M1A1 Abrams inventory is 26 years old36 with an estimated 33-year life span, and its fleet of light tactical vehicles such as HMMWVs (“Humvees”) is relatively young, averaging seven years old.37

The Corps’ main combat vehicles all entered service in the 1970s and 1980s, and while service life extensions, upgrades, and new generations of designs have allowed the platforms to remain in service, these vehicles are quickly becoming ill-suited to the changing threat environment. For example, with the advent of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the flat-bottom hulls found on most legacy vehicles are ineffective compared to the more blast-resistant V-shaped hulls incorporated in modern designs. Furthermore, the cost of maintaining these legacy systems diverts funding from innovation and modernization.38

The Corps’ aircraft have age profiles similar to the Navy’s. As of February 2016, the USMC had 262 F/A-18 A–Ds (including one reserve squadron) and 27 EA-6Bs in its primary mission aircraft inventory,39 and both aircraft have already surpassed their originally intended life spans.40 The Marine Corps began to retire its EA-6B squadrons in FY 2016 with the decommissioning of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 141 and will continue to decommission the remaining three at a rate of one per year through FY 2019.42 The 2016 Marine Aviation Plan projects that a total of 18 Prowlers will remain in the active and reserve components in FY 2017.43 Unlike the Navy, the Corps did not acquire the newer F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets; thus, the older F/A-18 Hornets are going through a service life extension program to extend their life span to 10,000 flight hours from the original 6,000 hours.44 This was intended to bridge the gap to when the F-35Bs and F-35Cs enter service to replace the Harriers and most of the Hornets. However, delays in the service life extension program and “increased wear on aging aircraft” have further limited availability of the F/A-18 A-D and AV-8B.45The AV-8B Harrier, designed to take off from the LHA and LHD amphibious assault ships, will be retired from Marine Corps service in 2026.46 The AV-8B received near-term capability upgrades in 2015 that will continue in 2017 in order to maintain its lethality and interoperability until the F-35 transition is complete.47 The Corps declared its first F-35B squadron operationally capable on July 31, 2015, after it passed an “Operational Readiness Inspection” test48 However, problems with the aircraft’s software continue to generate concern, with the potential for performance and schedule delays to accumulate between $20 billion and $100 billion in additional costs.49 On June 30, 2016, the Marine Corps stood up its second F-35B squadron, transitioning from an AV-8B Marine Attack Squadron to a Marine Fighter Attack Squadron.50

The Marine Corps has two Major Defense Acquisition (MDAP) vehicle programs: the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV).51 The JLTV is a joint program with the Army to acquire a more survivable light tactical vehicle to replace a percentage of the older HMMWV fleet, originally introduced in 1985. The Army retains overall responsibility for JLTV development through its Joint Program Office.52 The Marines intend to purchase 5,500 vehicles (10 percent of a total of 54,599),53 and acquisition of the JLTVs should be completed by FY 2023. However, the FY 2017 USMC budget request funds only 192 vehicles, 77 fewer JLTVs than originally requested, in order to prioritize funding for ACV and GATOR.54 The program is still in development and has experienced delays in the past due to a change in requirements, a contract award protest, and concerns regarding technical maturity.55 In 2014, the Corps cancelled the HMMWV Sustainment Modification Initiative, which would have upgraded 13,000 vehicles,56 in order to prioritize JLTV funding.57 Although the Marine Corps has indicated that the JLTV will not be a one-for-one replacement of the HMMWV,58 there are concerns that reduced procurement will create a battlefield mobility gap for some units.59

Following FY 2015 plans for the JLTV, the program awarded a low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract, which includes a future option of producing JLTVs for the Marine Corps, to defense contractor Oshkosh.60 The Corps procured 130 JLTVs across FY 2015 and FY 2016.61 The lack of operational detail in the Army’s updated Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Strategy could be an issue for future USMC JLTV procurement and modernization plans.62 Nevertheless, the USMC expects the JLTV program, consisting of “one infantry battalion fully fielded with the JLTV plus a training element,” to reach initial operational capability (IOC) in the fourth quarter of 2018.63

The Marine Corps plans to replace the AAV-7A1 with the ACV, which completed its Milestone B requirements in November 201564 and will move into the engineering, manufacture, and development phase in FY 2017.65 The ACV, which took the place of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), “has been structured to provide a phased, incremental capability.”66 The AAV-7A1 was to be replaced by the EFV, a follow-on to the cancelled Advanced AAV, but the EFV was also cancelled in 2011 due to technical obstacles and cost overruns. Similarly, the Corps planned to replace the LAV inventory with the Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC), which would serve as a Light Armored Vehicle with modest amphibious capabilities but would be designed primarily to provide enhanced survivability and mobility once ashore.67 However, budgetary constraints led the Corps to shelve the program, leaving open the possibility that it may be resumed in the future.

After restructuring its ground modernization portfolio, the Marine Corps determined that it would combine its efforts by upgrading 392 of its legacy AAVs and continuing development of the ACV in order to replace part of the existing fleet and complement the upgraded AAVs.68 This would help the Corps to meet its requirement of armored lift for 10 battalions of infantry.69 The USMC’s acquisition objective for the ACV is 204 vehicles for the first increment.70 Brigadier General Joseph Shrader confirmed that this ACV 1.1 increment would not replace the AAV, but rather would serve to “enhance that capability.”71

The ACV 1.1 platform is notable in that it will be an amphibious wheeled vehicle instead of a tracked vehicle, capable of traversing open water only with the assistance of Navy shore connectors such as Landing Craft, Air Cushion Vehicles (LCAC). The ACV 1.2 platform is being planned as a fully amphibious, tracked version.72 Development and procurement of the ACV program will be phased so that the new platforms can be fielded incrementally alongside a number of modernized AAVs.73 Plans call for a program of record of 694 vehicles, with the first battalion to reach IOC in FY 2020,74 and for modernizing enough of the current AAV fleet to outfit four additional battalions,75 which would allow the Corps to meet its armored lift requirement for 10 battalions. In addition, the Corps will purchase new vehicles based on the MPC concept.

The F-35B remains the Marine Corps’ largest investment program in FY 2017. The Corps announced IOC of the F-35B variant in July 2015.76 The service’s total procurement will consist of 420 F-35s (357 F-35Bs and 63 F-35Cs). The AV-8Bs and F/A-18A-Ds will continue to receive interoperability and lethality enhancements in order to extend their useful service lives during the transition to the F-35.77

As the F-35 enters into service and legacy platforms reach the end of their service life, the Marine Corps expects a near-term inventory challenge. Specifically, this is due to a combination of reduced JSF procurement, increasing tactical aircraft utilization rates, and shortfalls in F/A-18A-D and AV-8B depot facility production.78 In March 2016, General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, assessed that “[i]f these squadrons [in the F/A-18 community] were called on to fight today they would be forced to execute with 86 less jets than they need.”79 Like the F-35A, the F-35B and F-35C variants are subject to development delays, cost overruns, budget cuts, and production problems. The F-35B in particular was placed on probation in 2011 because of its technical challenges.80 Probation has since been lifted, and the Corps declared IOC with its first F-35B squadron, VMFA-121, on July 31, 2015.81

Today, the USMC MV-22 program is operating with few problems and nearing completion of the full acquisition objective of 360 aircraft.82 As of April 2016, the Marine Corps had received 269 of the 360 aircraft included in the program of record.83 Following deactivation of the final CH-46 squadron in April 2015, the Osprey has replaced the Sea Knight as the USMC’s primary medium lift platform.84 However, new Osprey squadrons were not commissioned fast enough to replace the retiring CH-46 squadrons. Currently, there are 14 fully operational capability squadrons to meet these needs, and two additional squadrons are forming.85 The MV-22’s capabilities are in high demand from the Combatant Commanders (COCOMS), and the Corps is adding capabilities such as fuel delivery and use of precision-guided munitions to the MV-22 to enhance its value to the COCOMs.86 The Marine Corps is struggling to sustain the Osprey’s capability rates because of a shortfall in its “ability to train enlisted maintainers in the numbers and with the qualifications necessary to sustain the high demand signal.”87

The USMC heavy lift replacement program, the CH-53K, conducted its first flight on October 27, 2015.88 The CH-53K will replace the Corps’ CH-53E, which entered service in 1980, However, “unexpected redesigns to critical components have delayed aircraft assembly and testing and have slowed delivery of test aircraft” pushing the expected LRIP decision into 2017.89 The helicopter is now predicted to reach IOC in 2019, almost four years later than initially anticipated.90 This is of increasing concern as the Marine Corps maintains only 146 CH-53Es, only 47 of which are considered flyable.91 Although the Marine Corps began a reset of the CH-53E in 2016 to bridge the procurement gap, it will not have enough helicopters to meet its heavy-lift requirement without the transition to the CH-53K.92 The FY 2017 request asks for continued Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) funding, along with $437 million for an initial procurement quantity of two CH-53Ks, and retains the current program of record of 200 CH-53Ks.93

Readiness

The Marine Corps’ first priority is to be the crisis response force for the military, which is why investment in readiness has been prioritized over capacity and capability. However, in order to invest in readiness in a time of downward fiscal pressure, the Corps has been forced to reduce end strength and delay investment in modernization. Even though funding for near-term readiness has been relatively protected from cuts, future readiness is threatened by underinvestment in long-term modernization and infrastructure.94 As General Dunford has explained, extended or long-term imbalance among the USMC “pillars” of readiness, which address both operational and foundational readiness, “will hollow the force and create unacceptable risk for our national defense.”95

In FY 2016, according to Marine Corps Assistant Commandant General John M. Paxton, Jr., “approximately half of our non-deployed units are suffering from some degree of personnel, equipment, or training shortfalls.”96 Personnel and equipment shortages, lower end strength, shorter dwell times, and a scarcity of prepositioned ships have inhibited sufficient training for home-station units and have “degraded full spectrum capability across the Service.”97

Marine aviation in particular is experiencing significant readiness shortfalls. With a smaller force structure and fewer aircraft available for training, aviation units are having difficulty keeping up with demanding operational requirements. All of the Marine Corps’ fixed-wing and tiltrotor aircraft are operating in excess of a 1:2 D2D ratio.98 High operational tempos, coupled with a 5.6 percent reduction in operations and maintenance funding from FY 2015 to FY 2016, put increasing stress on depots.99 This stress is increased by reduced procurement and workforce cuts, which contribute to readiness problems and leave fewer aircraft available for training or operations.100

Only 43 percent of the Marine Corps’ total aircraft inventory is currently considered flyable, which “leaves the Corps shy of being able to meet our wartime commitments” and reduces the aircraft available for training.101 As a result, average flight hours have reached “historic lows.”102According to General Paxton, the Marine Corps is concerned about these conditions and the possible correlation to “an increasing number of aircraft mishaps and accidents,” acknowledging that “if you fly less and maintain slower there’s a higher likelihood of accidents.”103

In order to achieve the minimum readiness goal, squadrons must be qualified to perform 70 percent of their Mission Essential Tasks. However, nearly half of the last 27 deployed squadrons failed to meet the necessary “training and readiness levels to be safe and meet the minimum for tactical proficiency.”104 In FY 2017, the Marine Corps will prioritize readiness funding for deployed and pre-deployment units.105 This decision comes at the expense of non-deployed forces. According to General Paxton, “[b]y degrading the readiness of these bench forces to support those forward deployed, we are forced to accept increased risk in our ability to respond to further contingencies, our ability to assure we are the most ready when the nation is least ready.”106

The Marines’ Ground Equipment Reset Strategy has been progressing and is anticipated to be completed by the end of FY 2017. All of the equipment in Afghanistan was withdrawn by February 2015. As of March 2016, 78 percent of ground equipment had been reset, and the Marine Corps expects to complete its total reset requirement by 2019.107 Reconstituting equipment and ensuring that the Corps’ inventory can meet operational requirements are critical aspects of readiness.

Scoring the U.S. Marine Corps

Capacity Score: Weak

Based on the deployment of Marines across major engagements since the Korean War, the Corps requires roughly 15 battalions for one MRC.108 Therefore, it would need a force of around 30 battalions to fight two MRCs simultaneously. The government force-sizing documents that discuss Marine Corps composition support this. Though the documents that make such a recommendations count the Marines by divisions, not battalions, they are consistent in arguing for three Active Marine Corps divisions, which in turn requires roughly 30 battalions. With a 20 percent strategic reserve, the ideal USMC capacity for a two-MRC force-sizing construct is 36 battalions.

More than 33,000 Marines were deployed in Korea, and over 44,000 were deployed in Vietnam. In the Persian Gulf, one of the largest Marine Corps missions in U.S. history, some 90,000 Marines were deployed, and around 66,000 were deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. As the Persian Gulf War is the most pertinent example for this construct, a force of 180,000 Marines is a reasonable benchmark for a two-MRC force, not counting Marines that would be unavailable for deployment (assigned to institutional portions of the Corps) or that are deployed elsewhere. This is supported by government documents that have advocated for a force as low as 174,000 (1993 Bottom-Up Review) and as high as 202,000 (2010 Quadrennial Defense Review), with an average end strength of 185,000 being recommended.

Two-MRC Level: 36 battalions.

Actual 2016 Level: 23 battalions.

The Corps is operating with slightly less than 64 percent of the number of battalions relative to the two-MRC benchmark. This is the same capacity level as measured in the 2016 Index, and the Corps’ capacity is therefore scored as “weak” again in 2017.

Capability Score: Marginal

The Corps receives scores of “weak” for “Capability of Equipment,” “marginal” for “Age of Equipment” and “Health of Modernization Programs,” but “strong” for “Size of Modernization Program.” Therefore, the aggregate score for Marine Corps capability is “marginal.” Excluded from the scoring are various ground vehicle programs that have been cancelled and are now being reprogrammed. This includes redesign of the MPC.

Readiness Score: Marginal

In FY 2016, approximately half of USMC units experienced degraded readiness. As the nation’s crisis response force, the Corps requires that all units, whether deployed or non-deployed, be ready. Thus, this Index scores the Corps’ readiness as “marginal” because the USMC is meeting only half of its readiness requirement. Last year, the USMC reported more specifically that 42 percent of units experienced degraded readiness, leaving 58 percent ready. Since the reporting was more vague this year, this Index assumes that the level is nearly the same, although it could be lower given that half would literally mean 50 percent ready, 8 percent lower than the reported 58 percent measured in the 2016 Index.

Overall U.S. Marine Corps Score: Marginal

The Marine Corps is scored as “marginal” overall in the 2017 Index. This is the same as the assessment in the previous Index. However, the Corps is at the lower end of this category, and the possibility of further declines in both capacity and readiness signals that this score could drop to “weak” in the near future given continued high demand and OPTEMPO on this service and the need to preserve immediate readiness concerns at the expense of the future force.

2017_Index_of_Military_Strength_MilitaryPowerUSMC


  1. U.S. Department of the Navy, FY 2017 President’s Budget, February 9, 2016, p. 3, 
http://www.secnav.navy.mil/fmc/fmb/Documents/17pres/DON_PRESS_BRIEF.pdf (accessed June 27, 2016). 

  2. General John Paxton, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” statement before the Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, March 15, 2016, p. 3, 
http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Paxton_03-15-16.pdf (accessed August 28, 2016). 

  3. General Joseph Dunford, Commandant, United States Marine Corps, statement on Marine Corps readiness before the Subcommittee on Defense, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, February 26, 2015, p. 10, 
http://www.hqmc.marines.mil/Portals/142/Docs/CMC%20Testimony%202015/USMC%20FY16%20Written%20Posture%20Statement_FINAL.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  4. Ibid., p. 11. 

  5. U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), Chief Financial Officer, United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request: Defense Budget Overview, February 2016, p. 8-13, 
http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2017/FY2017_Budget_Request_Overview_Book.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  6. U.S. Department of the Navy, Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Budget Estimates: Military Personnel, Marine Corps, Justification of Estimates, February 2015, p. 5, http://www.secnav.navy.mil/fmc/fmb/Documents/16pres/MPMC_Book.pdf (accessed August 28, 2016). 

  7. Ibid. 

  8. Richard Sisk, “Carter: Return to Sequestration Biggest Threat to National Security,” Military.com, March 17, 2016, 
http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/03/17/carter-return-sequestration-biggest-threat-national-security.html 
(accessed August 18, 2016). 

  9. U.S. Department of Defense, Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request: Estimated Impacts of Sequestration-Level Funding, April 2014, 
p. 3-2, http://archive.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Estimated_Impacts_of_Sequestration-Level_Funding_April.pdf 
(accessed August 29, 2016). 

  10. General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps, statement in Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and Sequestration on National Security, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, January 28, 2015, pp. 32–33, http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/15-04%20-%201-28-15.pdf 
(accessed August 29, 2016). 

  11. U.S. Department of Defense, United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request: Defense Budget Overview, p. A-1. 

  12. David Alexander, “Marines to Cut Four Battalions, 12 Air Squadrons,” Reuters, March 14, 2012, 
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-defense-marines-idUSBRE82E00Y20120315 (accessed August 17, 2016). 

  13. U.S. Department of Defense, United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request: Defense Budget Overview, 
p. 4-2. 

  14. U.S. Department of Defense, Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request: Estimated Impacts of Sequestration-Level Funding, p. 3-2. 

  15. Dunford statement, January 28, 2015, p. 32. 

  16. General John Paxton, Assistant Commandant, United States Marine Corps, statement on Marine Corps readiness and FY 2016 budget request before the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, March 25, 2015, p. 7, http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Paxton_03-25-15.pdf (accessed July 14, 2016). 

  17. Congressional Quarterly, “House Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on Aviation Readiness,” CQ Congressional Transcripts, July 6, 2016, http://www.cq.com/doc/congressionaltranscripts-4922435?3&search=lXd1KGHk (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  18. International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2016: The Annual Assessment of Global Military Capabilities and Defence Economics (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 44–45. The prior year figure was not repeated in recent testimony. Since publication of the 2016 IISS Military Balance, one Prowler squadron has been decommissioned, and one harrier squadron has been transitioned to an F-35B squadron. Factoring in these changes to the IISS Military Balance, there are 60 total squadrons in the Marine Corps active component, including all fixed-wing and rotary aircraft squadrons, training and transport squadrons, and one combat search and rescue squadron (does not include the “VIP” transport squadron). Using the same metrics, the total for 2015 based on the IISS Military Balance would have been 64. 

  19. Vice Admiral Paul Grosklags, Representing Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition); Lieutenant General Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation; and Rear Admiral Michael C. Manazir, Director Air Warfare, “Department of the Navy’s Aviation Programs,” statement before the Subcommittee on Seapower, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, April 20, 2016, p. 19, http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Grosklags-Davis-Manazir_04-20-16.pdf 
(accessed August 29, 2016). 

  20. U.S. Department of Defense, United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request: Defense Budget Overview, 
p. 8-12. 

  21. Paxton, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” March 15, 2016, p. 9. 

  22. Ibid. 

  23. General John Paxton, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, “Marine Corps 2017 Budget Request and Readiness,” statement before the Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, March 3, 2016, p. 8, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AS/AS03/20160303/104349/HHRG-114-AS03-Wstate-PaxtonJ-20160303.pdf 
(accessed August 28, 2016). 

  24. Paxton, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” March 15, 2016, p. 11. 

  25. General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., testimony in Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and Sequestration on National Security, p. 100. 

  26. General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, “2014 Report to Congress on the Posture of the United States Marine Corps,” statement before the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, March 12, 2014, p. 12, 
http://www.hqmc.marines.mil/portals/142/docs/FY_2015_CMC_POSTURE_STATEMENT.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  27. Paxton, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” March 15, 2016, p. 8. 

  28. Dunford statement on Marine Corps readiness, February 26, 2015, pp. 24–25. 

  29. Paxton, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” March 15, 2016, p. 8. 

  30. Dunford testimony in Hearing to Receive Testimony on the Impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and Sequestration on National Security, p. 75. 

  31. Paxton, statement on Marine Corps Readiness and FY 2016 budget request, March 25, 2015, p. 10. 

  32. Ibid., p. 11. 

  33. General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, “Navy and Marine Corps FY17 Budget Request,” statement before the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, March 15, 2016, p. 16, 
http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Neller_03-15-16.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  34. U.S. Marine Corps, “Ground Equipment Age,” Concepts & Programs, last revised April 3, 2014,
https://marinecorpsconceptsandprograms.com/resources/ground-equipment-age (accessed August 23, 2016). 

  35. News release, “SAIC Delivers First AAV SU to U.S. Marine Corps Ahead of Schedule,” Science Applications International Corporation, March 11, 2016, http://investors.saic.com/press-release/saic-delivers-first-aav-su-us-marine-corps-ahead-schedule (accessed June 27, 2016). 

  36. Paxton, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” March 15, 2016, p. 15. 

  37. U.S. Marine Corps, “Ground Equipment Age.” 

  38. Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration, and Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and Thomas P. Dee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management, “Marine Corps Ground Modernization,” statement before the Subcommittee on Seapower, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, April 13, 2016, p. 4, 
http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Walsh-Dee_04-13-16.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  39. International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2016, p. 45. 

  40. U.S. Marine Corps, “Aircraft Age Chart,” Concepts & Programs, July 2, 2014, 
https://marinecorpsconceptsandprograms.com/resources/aircraft-age-chart (accessed June 3, 2016). 

  41. Lieutenant Colonel Ricky B. Johnson (ret.), “The Military Will Need the Marines’ Electronic Warfare Squadrons Beyond 2019,” Marine Corps Times, May 28, 2016, http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/opinion/2016/05/28/military-need-marines-electronic-warfare-squadrons-beyond-2019/84623644/ (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  42. U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Aviation Plan 2016, Concepts & Programs, p. 48, 
https://marinecorpsconceptsandprograms.com/sites/default/files/files/Marine%20Aviation%20Plan%202016%20FINAL.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  43. Ibid., p. 39. 

  44. U.S. Marine Corps, “Legacy Aircraft,” Concepts & Programs, last revised March 3, 2015,
https://marinecorpsconceptsandprograms.com/programs/aviation/legacy-aircraft (accessed August 23, 2016); Jeremiah Gertler, “Navy F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Aircraft Procurement and Strike Fighter Shortfall: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, December 22, 2009, p. 5, 
https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RL30624.pdf (accessed August 23, 2016). 

  45. Paxton, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” March 15, 2016, p. 9. 

  46. U.S. Marine Corps, “Legacy Aircraft.” 

  47. Grosklags, Davis, and Manazir, “Department of the Navy’s Aviation Programs,” April 20, 2016, p. 3. 

  48. Megan Eckstein, “Marines Declare Initial Operational Capability on F-35B Joint Strike Fighter,” USNI News, July 31, 2015, 
https://news.usni.org/2015/07/31/marines-declare-initial-operational-capability-on-f-35b-joint-strike-fighter 
(accessed August 23, 2016). 

  49. U.S. Government Accountability Office, F-35 Sustainment: DOD Needs a Plan to Address Risks Related to Its Central Logistics System, GAO-16-439, April 2016, p. 2, http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/676576.pdf (accessed June 10, 2016). 

  50. Megan Eckstein, “Second F-35B Squadron Stands Up at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma,” USNI News, June 30, 2016, 
https://news.usni.org/2016/06/30/20458 (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  51. U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request: Program Acquisition Cost by Weapon System, February 2016, pp. 3-2 and 3-9, http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2017/FY2017_Weapons.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  52. Andrew Feickert, “Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV): Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees Congress, February 18, 2016, pp. 1–2, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RS22942.pdf (accessed August 23, 2016). 

  53. U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Program Office, Selected Acquisition Report (SAR): Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) As of FY 2017 President’s Budget, March 22, 2016, p. 39, http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/Reading_Room/Selected_Acquisition_Reports/16-F-0402_DOC_43_JLTV_DEC_2015_SAR.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  54. U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 President’s Budget Submission: Procurement, Marine Corps, Justification Book Volume 1 of 1, February 2016, p. 343, 
http://www.secnav.navy.mil/fmc/fmb/Documents/17pres/PMC_Book.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  55. Feickert, “Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV),” February 18, 2016, pp. 2–3. 

  56. Lieutenant General Kenneth J. Glueck, Jr., Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration, and Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and Thomas P. Dee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management, “Marine Corps Modernization,” statement before the Subcommittee on Seapower, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, March 11, 2015, p.10, 
http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Glueck-Dee_03-11-15.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  57. Andrew Feickert, “Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV): Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees of Congress, August 6, 2014, p. 4, https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=756661 
(accessed August 29, 2016). 

  58. Feickert, “Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV),” February 18, 2016, p. 1. 

  59. Glueck and Dee, “Marine Corps Modernization,” p. 10. 

  60. Joe Gould, “Oshkosh Awaits Protest After JLTV Win,” Defense News, August 29, 2015, 
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/land/vehicles/2015/08/29/oshkosh-awaits-protests-jltv-win/71325838 
(accessed September 21, 2015). 

  61. U.S. Department of Defense, Selected Acquisition Report (SAR): Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) As of FY 2017 President’s Budget, p. 27. 

  62. Andrew Feickert, “Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV): Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees of Congress, March 9, 2015, p. 6, 
http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503674/m1/1/high_res_d/RS22942_2015Mar09.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  63. Dunford statement on Marine Corps readiness, February 26, 2015, p. 13. 

  64. Andrew Feickert, “Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC): Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees of Congress, February 26, 2016, p. 7, 
https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R42723.pdf (accessed August 29, 2016). 

  65. U.S. Department of Defense, United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request: Program Acquisition Cost by Weapon System, p. 3-9. 

  66. Ibid. 

  67. Feickert, “Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC),” pp. 1–2. 

  68. Glueck and Dee, “Marine Corps Modernization,” pp. 7–9. 

  69. In regard to this overall requirement—armored lift for 10 battalions of infantry—the AAV Survivability Upgrade Program would provide for four battalions, and ACV 1.1 and ACV 1.2 would account for six battalions. Ibid., pp. 27–28. 

  70. Lieutenant General Robert Walsh, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration; Brigadier General Joseph Shrader, Commander, Marine Corps Systems Command; and William Taylor, Program Executive Officer, Marine Corps Land Systems, “Marine Corps Ground Forces Modernization, Modernization Programs,” statement before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, March 2, 2016, p. 5, 
http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AS/AS25/20160302/104554/HHRG-114-AS25-Wstate-WalshR-20160302.pdf 
(accessed August 30, 2016). 

  71. Sam LaGrone, “WEST: Marines Plan to Issue Amphibious Combat Vehicle Request for Proposal in March,” USNI News, 
February 12, 2015, http://news.usni.org/2015/02/12/west-marines-plan-issue-amphibious-combat-vehicle-request-proposal-march (accessed August 23, 2016). 

  72. Feickert, “Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC).” 

  73. Dunford statement on Marine Corps readiness, February 26, 2015, p. 28. 

  74. Neller, “Navy and Marine Corps FY17 Budget Request,” p. 13. 

  75. James K. Sanborn, “Marine Corps Releases ACV 1.1 Solicitation,” Marine Corps Times, April 2, 2015, 
https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/tech/2015/04/02/marine-corps-releases-acv-solicitation/70838230/ (accessed August 23, 2016). 

  76. Grosklags, Davis, and Manazir, “Department of the Navy’s Aviation Programs,” April 20, 2016, p. 7. 

  77. Ibid, p. 3. 

  78. Vice Admiral Paul Grosklags, Principal Military Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition); Rear Admiral Michael C. Manazir, Director, Air Warfare; and Lieutenant General Jon Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation, “Department of the Navy’s Aviation Programs,” statement before the Subcommittee on Seapower, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, March 25, 2015, p. 10, http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Grosklags_Manazir_Davis_03-25-15.pdf (accessed August 30, 2016). 

  79. Neller, “Navy and Marine Corps FY17 Budget Request,” p. 8. 

  80. Stephen Trimble, “US Military Unveils Possible F-35B Redesign in Sweeping Budget Reforms,” FlightGlobal, January 6, 2011, https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-military-unveils-possible-f-35b-redesign-in-sweep-351600/ 
(accessed August 30, 2016). 

  81. Eckstein, “Marines Declare Initial Operational Capability on F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.” 

  82. U.S. Department of Defense, Selected Acquisition Report (SAR): V-22 Osprey Joint Services Advanced Vertical Lift Aircraft As of FY 2017 President’s Budget, December 22, 2015, p. 61, http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/Reading_Room/Selected_Acquisition_Reports/16-F-0402_DOC_64_V-22_DEC_2015_SAR.pdf (accessed August 30, 2016). 

  83. Grosklags, Davis, and Manazir, “Department of the Navy’s Aviation Programs,” April 20, 2016, p. 19. 

  84. Gidget Fuentes, “Marines Bid ‘Phrog’ Farewell to Last Active CH-46E Sea Knight Squadron,” USNI News, April 10, 2015, 
http://news.usni.org/2015/04/10/marines-bid-phrog-farewell-to-last-active-ch-46e-sea-knight-squadron 
(accessed August 23, 2016). 

  85. Grosklags, Davis, and Manazir, “Department of the Navy’s Aviation Programs,” April 20, 2016, p. 19.; International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2016, p. 45. 

  86. Grosklags, Manazir, and Davis, “Department of the Navy’s Aviation Programs,” March 25, 2015, p. 16. 

  87. Ibid. 

  88. Grosklags, Davis, and Manazir, “Department of the Navy’s Aviation Programs,” April 20, 2016, p. 21. 

  89. U.S. Government Accountability Office, Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapons Programs, GAO-16-329SP, 
March 31, 2016, p. 93, http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/676281.pdf (accessed August 30, 2016). 

  90. Ibid., p. 93. 

  91. Lieutenant General Jon M. Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation, “Aviation Readiness and Safety,” statement before the Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, July 6, 2016, p. [5], 
http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AS/AS03/20160706/105159/HHRG-114-AS03-Wstate-DavisJ-20160706.pdf 
(accessed August 30, 2016). 

  92. Ibid., p. 10. 

  93. U.S. Department of Defense, Selected Acquisition Report (SAR): CH-53K Heavy Lift Replacement Helicopter (CH-53K) As of FY 2017 President’s Budget, December 31, 2015, p. 13, http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/Reading_Room/Selected_Acquisition_Reports/16-F-0402_DOC_49_CH-53K_DEC_2015_SAR.pdf (accessed August 30, 2016); U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request: Program Acquisition Cost by Weapon System, February 2016, p. 1-15, 
http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2017/FY2017_Weapons.pdf (accessed August 31, 2016). 

  94. Dunford statement on Marine Corps readiness, February 26, 2015, p. 20. 

  95. Ibid. 

  96. Congressional Quarterly, “Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support Holds Hearing on U.S. Force Readiness,” CQ Congressional Transcripts, March 15, 2016, 
http://www.cq.com/doc/congressionaltranscripts-4853577?2&search=0PXw7gtv (accessed August 30, 2016). 

  97. Dunford statement on Marine Corps readiness, February 26, 2015, p. 24. 

  98. Paxton, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” March 15, 2016, p. 9. 

  99. Ibid., pp. 6 and 9. 

  100. Ibid., p. 

  101. Davis, “Aviation Readiness and Safety,” p. [1]. 

  102. Ibid., p. [3]. 

  103. Congressional Quarterly transcript of Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support hearing, March 15, 2016. 

  104. Davis, “Aviation Readiness and Safety,” p. 2. 

  105. U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY 2017 Budget, February 2016, p. 3-13, 
http://www.secnav.navy.mil/fmc/fmb/Documents/17pres/Highlights_book.pdf (accessed June 27, 2016). 

  106. Paxton, “U.S. Marine Corps Readiness,” March 15, 2016, p. 7. 

  107. Ibid., p. 13. 

  108. This count is based on an average number of 1.5 divisions deployed to major wars (see Table 6, p. 226) and an average of 10–11 battalions per division.