Washington: The Marine Corps does not know how it will replace ground equipment worn out by over a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, or how much it will cost, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.
The service has a plan to replace its fighters and helicopters lost in battle, but “a reset strategy for ground equipment has not yet been developed,” according to the report.
Without that overall guidance, service leaders have no way of knowing what platforms need replacing, due to combat losses, and what platforms can be axed in favor of new systems.
That lack of planning has also thrown cost estimates for ground reset out of whack, since the the Marine Corps has “differing definitions of reset…used for aviation and ground equipment,” it adds.
From 2006 to 2010, Congress has already appropriated roughly $16 billion to the service to reconstitute its ground forces.
Service leaders claim a plan for ground force reset is in the works, but the soonest it could be ready is by next April. The Marine Corps cannot finalize the details of that reset plan until it has a clearer idea of how many forces will be coming out of Afghanistan this summer and Iraq at the end of this year.
But the longer the service waits to get that strategy in place, the harder it will be for ground commanders to keep the fight going against the Taliban, GAO auditors claim.
“Until the ground equipment reset strategy is issued, establishing firm plans for reset may be difficult for the Marine Corps Logistics Command to effectively manage the rotation of equipment to units to sustain combat operations,” according to the report.
The Marine Corps, along with the rest of the services, are beginning to buckle under the strain of the high operational tempo they have been on in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.
Home station readiness rates have dropped so low, as a result of the that high tempo in Afghanistan, the service has not been able to do their jobs in other parts of the world, Gen. Joseph Dunford, Marine Corps assistant commandant, told the Hill last month.