Nearly Half of Non-deployed Marine Corps Units Aren’t Combat-ready


By Debbie Gregory.

The assistant commandant of the Marine Corps has warned Congress that their mission is threatened by budget cuts, which has led to a dangerous lack of readiness and training.

Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton has said that nearly half of non-deployed Marine units do not have all of the personnel, equipment or training they need.

“I think it’s 46 percent [of units that] have some degree of personnel, training or equipment degradation,” Paxton told reporters after testifying before the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee.

“I worry about the capability and the capacity to win in a major fight somewhere else right now,” Paxton added.

Paxton warned about the drastically reduced ability of aviation, communications and intelligence units.

“In the event of a crisis, these degraded units could either be called upon to deploy immediately at increased risk to the force and the mission, or require additional time to prepare thus incurring increased risk to mission by surrendering the initiative to our adversaries,” Paxton said. “This does not mean we will not be able to respond to the call … It does mean that executing our defense strategy or responding to an emergent crisis may require more time, more risk, and incur greater costs and casualties.”

To remedy troop readiness issues, the Marine Corps plans to ask Congress for $460 million as part of the service’s unfunded priority list. That money would go toward training, exercises, facility sustainment and spare parts.

Buying new aircraft while maintaining older models has made it challenging to get aviation units the spare parts they need, Paxton said.

“A lot of times, it is the parts that [are] the key limiting factor,” he said. “You have to get them out there. That takes money to do it. It also takes time to get them there.”

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How Much Time is Needed to Properly Train Guard Troops?


By Debbie Gregory.

Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Kadavy, the Army National Guard director, has contemplated whether 39 days a year for training and drill is enough for the Guard Soldiers. His conclusion? More training is needed.

To that end, the U.S. Army’s top officer is planning to more than double the number of required annual training days for some National Guard units.

Given the plan to reduce the active force from 490,000 to 450,000 by 2018, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley had asked for more insight into how the Guard trains and maintains readiness.

The current training includes two drill days a month, plus an additional 15 days a year, for a total of 39. The Guard troops also get two Combat Training Centers rotations/year, one at the Joint Readiness Training Center on Fort Polk, Louisiana, and one at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

“Maybe we need to look at changing that … maybe I should take some of the Guard and significantly increase the number of training days they train in a given year — maybe 60 to 100 days a year to reduce the response time on the back end when they get alerted and mobilized,” Milley said.

Kadavy said that the minimum 39 days are antiquated, and that the Army National Guard has done a significant amount of “learning” as its units have geared up for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 14 years.

“We need to continue to exercise to some degree those lessons-learned, and then learn new lessons and continue to progress,” he said. “I think our Army and our nation needs us. I always believe readiness should be looked at as an investment and not simply as a measurement of cost.”

Kadavy also said a priority for the Army National Guard is ensuring leader development. Combat experience alone doesn’t ensure success of the Guard, he said.

But “leaders of character will,” he said. “I depend on these leaders of character to help foster a climate of trust, because we all know trust is the bedrock of our profession.”

He also expressed concern with maintaining a resourced and modernized Army National Guard. To meet emerging challenges, he said, the Army National Guard “must be able to maintain a viable investment strategy for both equipment and facilities.”

The last thing Milley wants to do is send unprepared units into combat.

“We have to lean on the Guard, but that means that I have to get their readiness levels up to a level that is combat capable in the shortest amount of time post mobilization,” Milley said.

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