Official: Budget Request Keeps Navy, Marines ‘Expeditionary’
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2012 The Navy and Marine Corps will be leaner and smaller, but still rapidly deployable under the fiscal 2013 budget request President Barack Obama sent to Congress today, the Navy’s budget chief said.
Rear Adm. Joseph P. Mulloy, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for budget, told Pentagon reporters today the sea service, which also administers the Marine Corps’ budget, will trim spending by $58.1 billion by the end of fiscal 2017. The Navy’s proposed fiscal 2013 budget is down $9.5 billion from fiscal 2012.
“We think all of our investments here are aligned to the strategic priorities and goals as set out by the president,” the admiral said.
As required by the Budget Control Act, the Defense Department budget request includes $487 billion in spending cuts for fiscal years 2013 to 2017.
The budget request sets Navy active and reserve end strength for fiscal 2013 at 385,200 -- 1.7 percent less than fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2017, the end strength will be 376,600, a 3.9 percent reduction from fiscal 2012.
Marine Corps active and reserve end strength in fiscal 2013 is 236,900 under the proposal -- 2 percent less than fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2017 the end strength will be 221,700, an 8.3 percent reduction from fiscal 2012.
“The Navy has come down almost 6,000 people over the last 10 years,” the admiral noted. Marine Corps end-state reductions, like the Army’s, are in line with planned troop reductions in Afghanistan, he added.
Mulloy noted sailors and Marines will lose “not a dollar” under the budget request, though pay increases will slow after 2014.
In force structure changes through fiscal 2017, the Navy will eliminate seven cruisers and two dock landing ships. Next fiscal year, the service is slated to add seven and drop 11 from its list of combat-capable ships.
The Navy will gain a nuclear attack submarine, a transport dock, a dry-cargo ammunition ship, a littoral combat ship, two joint high-speed vessels and one mobile landing platform. The service will retire one aircraft carrier, six frigates and four cruisers.
Mulloy noted Navy officials don’t expect the fleet size to change much over time, though the number of ships will drop slightly for a few years.
“We’re forecasting that in 2017 we’ll have the same number of ships that we have now,” he said.
“We have 37 ships under construction … and nine more ships to award this year,” the admiral added.
The Marine Corps will eliminate an infantry regiment headquarters, five infantry battalions (four active and one reserve), an artillery battalion, four tactical air squadrons (three active and one reserve), and a combat logistics battalion.
Mulloy acknowledged the budget request call for delaying several Navy and Marine Corps programs and postponing some purchases. Operations and maintenance are essential, he said, and too-deep force cuts carry unacceptable risk, so “where do you take the cuts?”
Navy planners and leaders looked at long-term programs as the best source of cost reduction, he said, adding “The real driver here was, ‘What do we need to have?’”
The proposal delays for two years the planned “SSBN-X” ballistic missile submarine program, which will develop a replacement for the Ohio-class submarines.
The Ohio-class subs will begin to reach the end of their service life in 2027, according to Navy officials. A two-year delay in developing the multibillion-dollar replacement, which will form part of the nation’s nuclear triad, represents an “acceptable risk,” officials said.
The Navy also proposes reducing procurement of joint high-speed vessels from 18 ships to 10, and a scheduled MV-22 Osprey purchase by 24 aircraft through 2017.
The Navy will also slow buys of two joint strike fighter variants, deferring until after 2017 purchase of 69 of the aircraft. The service will terminate its Medium-Range Maritime Unmanned Aerial System, as Navy officials said other unmanned systems show demonstrated capability.
Spending for Navy and Marine Corps green energy initiatives will remain fairly steady, Mulloy said, calling them a key component for the department for “tremendous tactical reasons.”
For Marines on the ground and ships and planes afloat, minimizing fuel transport and fueling operations means reducing risk, he noted.
“Everything you can do to [reduce] energy use and drive the same tactical output … is important,” the admiral said.
The Navy and Marine Corps’ emphasis on renewable energy ensures more “safety for personnel and efficiency for our forces,” Mulloy added.
The budget proposal will mean “a leaner, smaller force, but we’re still rapidly deployable and expeditionary, and we’re manned and led with the highest quality of individuals,” he said.