Navy, Marines Request Funding to Repair, Replace Equipment
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2007 The Navy and Marine Corps are requesting $4.4 billion to fix or replace worn out or damaged military equipment that has seen hard use in the war against global terrorism, senior military leaders testified before a joint U.S. House committee on Capitol Hill yesterday.
Congress deserves thanks for already providing about $10.2 billion for repair or replacement of Navy and Marine equipment as part of fiscal 2006 and 2007 supplemental funding, Lt. Gen. Emerson Gardner, the Marines’ deputy commandant for programs and resources, said before members of the Sea Power and Expeditionary Forces subcommittees.
“For over five years, the Marine Corps has been involved in combat and combat support operations around the globe,” Gardner said. “Your deployed Marines are better trained, better equipped and better protected than ever before.”
In fact, about $2.8 billion in funding is earmarked for obtaining 2,700 roadside-bomb-resistant trucks, known as mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, for Marines and sailors deployed to Iraq, Gardner said. About 65 of these robust vehicles are being used in Iraq, he said.
“Our experience is that Marines in these vehicles have been four to five times safer than a Marine in an armored Humvee,” Gardner said. “Based on this experience, we recently decided to replace our armored Humvees in theater on a one-for-one basis with MRAPs.”
The Marine Corps also will plus-up its ranks, Gardner noted, by adding around 5,000 new Marines each year until the Corps’ new end strength of about 202,000 Marines is reached by 2011.
“We are initially funding this effort through a mix of baseline and supplemental appropriations,” Gardner explained. “But, we are eager to get these costs into our baseline budget as soon as possible.”
About 42,000 U.S. sailors are deployed worldwide, said Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, who also testified at the hearing. More than 12,000 sailors are serving on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Greenert said.
High-demand naval combat engineers, known as Seabees; Sea, Air and Land special operations forces; and explosive ordnance disposal teams deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq are experiencing rapid wearing out of their equipment, Greenert said. Some equipment is wearing out on average 14 times faster than during peacetime usage, he noted.
Other equipment, such as field generators, are wearing out 40 times faster, Greenert said.
In addition, Navy aircraft like the F/A-18 Hornet are aging rapidly due to excessive amounts of mission flight time, the admiral said.
The Hornet is consuming flight hours at a rate 30 percent greater than originally planned, Greenert said. “This increase in flight hours is accelerating the expected service life of these aircraft, reducing anticipated years of service.”
Other Naval aircraft being used in Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing similar stresses, he added.
Such wear and tear on equipment produces higher operational costs, Greenert said.
Past wartime supplemental funding provided by Congress was used to support overseas operational costs and not for resetting, or fixing or replacing, worn out equipment, the admiral said.
“Our reset requirements for our equipment will continue to grow more extensively than originally anticipated, as long as our high op tempo continues,” Greenert said.