[SatNews] While the U.S. Marine Corps can meet Defense Department Strategic Guidance requirements, there is no margin, and even absent sequestration, the service will need recovery years following a decade of war, the service's commandant testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee here today.
Sequester will exacerbate current challenges and result in fewer active-duty Marine Corps battalions and squadrons, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. told the Senate panel.
"You expect your Marines to operate forward, engage with partners, deter potential adversaries and respond to crises," Dunford said. "And when we fight, you expect us to win."
Yet, despite budget concerns, the Marine Corps remains ready to help defend the nation and its global interests, Dunford said, with more than 30,000 Marines forward deployed and engaged around the world.
Throughout recent years of budget cuts and fiscal uncertainty, the Marine Corps prioritized the readiness of forward-deployed forces, the commandant said. But supporting those missions, he explained, risks home-station readiness, modernization, infrastructure sustainment and quality-of-life programs.
"As a result, approximately half of our non-deployed units, those who provide the bench to respond to the unexpected, are suffering personnel, equipment and training shortfalls," the general said. "In a major conflict, those shortfalls will result in a delayed response and/or additional casualties."
Still, the Marine Corps continues to invest in modernization, he said, although at a historically low level.
"We... must maintain at least 10 to 12 percent of our resources on modernization to field a ready force for tomorrow," Dunford said. "To pay today's bills, we're currently investing 7 to 8 percent." Over time, the general added, that investment dip will result in maintaining older or obsolete equipment at higher cost and greater operational risk.
And, while many impacts of sequestration can be quantified, Dunford said he acknowledges the human dimension.
"Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and their families should never have to face doubts about whether they will be deployed without proper training and equipment," Dunford said. "Sequestration will erode the trust that our young men and women in uniform, civil servants and families have in their leadership—and the cost of losing that trust is incalculable."
Story by Amaani Lyle, DoD News, Defense Media Activity