Marine Corps Aviation in Trouble?

The national defense budget austerity is putting a crimp in all the Armed Forces and their readiness. This article covers the safety and readiness issues that are being suffered by Marine Corps aviation. The Operational Tempo, coupled with budget and personnel cuts, is having a measurable and negative impact on the Marine Corps’ ability to safely train and accomplish its missions. Read all about the issues in this article.

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As Written By JESSE SLOMAN , War On The Rocks:


Last month’s release of the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan highlighted the service’s struggles to keep its planes flying and its pilots trained. Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the deputy commandant for aviation, stated in the report’s introduction that the Corps has seen “a decrease in flight hours per month per aircrew and an uptick in [its] mishap rates,” leading to concerns about the readiness of Marine squadrons. These challenges stem, in part, from two conditions impacting the force as a whole: The Corps is continuing to deploy thousands worldwide even as the size of the force has shrunk; and the budgetary turmoil of the past few years has prevented the service from carrying out important maintenance and equipment updates. Aviation readiness will continue to suffer despite the best efforts of the Marine Corps unless adequate funding levels are maintained and operational commitments are limited to what is sustainable.

Bryan Clark and I described the difficulties posed by the Corps’ high operational tempo (OPTEMPO) in our recent report, Deploying Beyond Their Means: America’s Navy and Marine Corps at a Tipping Point. Although the U.S. troop commitment in Afghanistan has fallen precipitously, the resumption of a rotational deployment program in the Pacific and an increasing number of deployments in response to contingencies in Africa continue to place large demands on Marine manpower. The Corps is also in the midst of a drawdown that will ultimately reduce its overall strength to 182,000 by 2017. There are currently some 30,000 marines deployed overseas out of an active force of 186,000. That total is just 6,000 fewer than in January 2014, when there were more than 196,000 men and women on active duty. The Corps’ manning and resources are declining faster than its operational commitments.

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