1998 Congressional Hearings



 

STATEMENTS OF 

MAJOR GENERAL WAYNE E. ROLLINGS 

COMMANDING GENERAL, II MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

 

MAJOR GENERAL EMIL R. BEDARD 

COMMANDING GENERAL, 2D MARINE DIVISION

 

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM L. NYLAND 

COMMANDING GENERAL, 2D MARINE AIRCRAFT WING

 

BRIGADIER GENERAL PAUL M. LEE Jr

COMMANDING GENERAL, 2D FORCE SERVICE SUPPORT GROUP

 

MAJOR GENERAL RAY L. SMITH 

COMMANDING GENERAL, MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE 

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

 

BEFORE THE 

SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON READINESS 

ON 24 SEPTEMBER 1998 

CONCERNING READINESS

 

Mr. Chairman and distinguished committee members, it is my honor to be able to address you today and answer your questions regarding the readiness of your Marines in the II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF). As you are aware, a Professional Staff Member of the full committee, staff members from the House side, as well as General Accounting Office and Office of the Secretary of Defense personnel, have come to visit us at II MEF in recent months to assess our readiness. Your visits and questions have been most welcomed and show your genuine concern for the health, welfare, and readiness of Americas 911 Force. We at II MEF and our Marine Corps bases and stations, the homes of our Air Ground Logistics team, share your concerns and welcome this opportunity to address the challenges related to the readiness of our warfighting forces and our facilities and infrastructure. That is why it is my great pleasure to appear before you today alongside my major subordinate commanders: the Commanding General of 2d Marine Division, MajGen Emil R. Bedard; 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, MajGen William L Nyland; and 2d Force Service Support Group, BGen Paul M. Lee Jr. The Commanding General, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, MajGen Ray L. Smith is also on the panel today.

Our Commandant, who will testify later this month, will address the issues and concerns of the Corps as a whole. What we would like to present today is the II MEF and the MCB Camp Lejeune perspective on our readiness posture. I will start first with a look at II MEF itself who we are and what we do followed by a discussion on issues such as personnel, equipment, infrastructure, and training. Finally, we will discuss the need for modernization, which is the key to maintaining our readiness edge. The enclosures attached to this statement are summaries of our Commanding Generals most pressing readiness concerns.

II MEF

The II Marine Expeditionary Force is one of three such warfighting commands within the Fleet Marine Forces. II MEF, more than 39,000 Marines and Sailors, is composed of three major subordinate commands (2d Marine Division, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, and 2d Force Service Support Group); three Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs); as well as various Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Forces, separate battalions, and the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF). II MEF serves as both a warfighting command and a force provider to all five regional unified commanders. II MEF routinely has over 10,000 Marines and Sailors deployed on operational, rotational, and exercise deployments supporting U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Atlantic Command, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. European Command. As I address you today, I have small teams of two and three Marines assigned to Joint Planning and Assistance Teams in South America, a platoon size engineer detachment in the Azores, a reinforced infantry company in Panama, a battalion and squadrons in Japan, and a Special Operations Capable MEU as part of an Amphibious Ready Group in the Mediterranean Sea. These forward deployed forces are executing our National Security Strategy. Additionally, they are, as mandated by the 82d Congress, the most ready when the nation is least ready.

OPTEMPO

Being forward deployed, away from family and loved ones, has never been easy, but it is what we do and is what the American people need us to continue to do. The individual we recruit, train, and make into a high caliber Marine, is ready for this challenge for one simple reason-- Pride! This pride comes from knowing that Marines have traditionally been at the tip of the spear in response to the defense of our nations interests, and will continue to remain the nations expeditionary force in readiness by accepting and successfully meeting all challenges. However, as our numbers have decreased and commitments increased, we find that more of our Marines deploy with greater frequency. By comparison, one year ago in September 1997, approximately 6,800 Marines or 18% of II MEF was deployed. During this same timeframe one year later, over 11,600 or 30% of the Marines in II MEF are deployed. To provide a few specifics, the deployment tempo (DEPTEMPO) in Fiscal Year (FY) 98 for the average Marine in II MEFs separate battalions and 2d Force Service Support Group is over 30%, while the average tempo for infantry battalions, rotary and fixed wing squadrons, is over 40%. These figures include actual days deployed from home stations and do not include days and nights spent in the field while conducting local training. Certain critical skills, such as those in the intelligence field, deploy more often, resulting in DEPTEMPOs of 65% or higher. Interrogator-Translators from our 2d Intelligence Company had an average deployed time of 268 days while Spanish Cryptologic Linguists and some of our Communications Intelligence Intercept Operators from 2d Radio Battalion averaged in excess of 300 days. Though these numbers are high, let me assure you that the Marines we deploy on the cutting edge to safeguard Americas interests are trained and combat ready. We take no shortcuts in preparing our deploying forces for the challenges they will face.

In short, the Marines and Sailors of II MEF remain as combat ready and capable today as we have in the past. The challenge we now face is in finding the key which ensures we maintain combat readiness in the future. We believe modernization is that key to our continued success.

PERSONNEL

Long before the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), our Commandant tasked the leadership of our Corps with evaluating our organization and structure with an eye to how we could best fight the nations battles in the 21st Century. Part of that process was a search for economies which would yield savings to be applied towards modernization. When the QDR proposed such savings, through force structure reductions, we worked the resulting cuts in manpower to our best advantage. We cut support forces where we could while still maintaining our combat forces in a high state of readiness. We feel our current force structure will minimally meet the requirements of tomorrows anticipated Operational Tempo (OPTEMPO).

EQUIPMENT

While the framework for our force structure is in place, I am afraid the same cannot yet be said of our equipment. Although the appropriate number of personnel are assigned to maintenance and support billets, the number of man-hours spent repairing and maintaining equipment that has passed, or is imminently approaching, its expected service life has created longer working hours for maintenance and support personnel. Additionally, the number of spare parts required to repair aged equipment that deploys more often now than in the past, along with associated costs for repairs, has dramatically increased. In FY 95, the average intermediate level maintenance equipment repair order cost in II MEF was $92.23. Today that average cost in II MEF is $182.51.

In order to better understand the current status of our equipment and how this impacts on our future, I would like to take a look at each of our various commands and provide a few examples on the condition of our equipment in the II Marine Expeditionary Force. Although the equipment that each command employs is different, you will hear a theme that is consistent throughout.

In the 2d Marine Division, the average age of the 5-ton truck and M-198 howitzer is 16 years, while the average age for the amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) is 27 years. Although the AAV is scheduled to be replaced by the advanced amphibious assault vehicle (AAAV), it will not be fully fielded until 2012. In the meantime, the previous maintenance program, Inspect and Repair Only as Necessary (IROAN), has been replaced by the Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability/Rebuilt Standard (RAM/RS) program. While this new program will hopefully keep costs at an affordable level, it will also reduce the number of rebuilt AAVs delivered annually to the division from 75 to 25. The wear and tear on equipment is exacerbated not only by the increased OPTEMPO, which requires continuous deployment and employment of equipment, but the equipment experiences further degradation from salt water exposure inherent in our amphibious nature.

Simply put, older equipment requires more maintenance and more money. While the restoration and service life extension programs meet the goals for short-term savings, they are also costly in terms of repair parts and man-hours, out-of-service frequency increases, and no long-term solution to the issue of equipment readiness is provided.

In the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, we find a similar problem. With 25 years as the average age for a 2d Marine Aircraft Wing CH-46E helicopter, and some as old as 30 years, the aircraft is now older than the average first tour pilot checking into a squadron to fly that aircraft. Older aircraft require parts more frequently and increase the man-hours to maintain safe helicopters and jets which results in our Wing holding stock orders and repairables in the year of execution because of insufficient funding. This then requires our Wing to spend next years money to solve the readiness deficiency. The anticipated bow wave from this practice entering FY 99 is estimated at $20 million. Despite these fiscal challenges, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing remains committed to meeting its readiness goal. When their funds for the present do not match their needs, they borrow on their future.

When parts are simply not available due to lack of funds, other measures are used to repair their old aircraft. For example, cannibalization of functional parts from downed airframes, while not the most desirable practice, does produce a short-term fix, but does not address a long-term solution. The residual negative impact this practice causes is a significant increase in the amount of man-hours required to fix an aircraft. This leads to a reduction in both personnel and maintenance readiness as increased man-hours are spent to meet mission requirements.

The 2d Force Service Support Group provides not only motor transport and deliberate engineering, but 3rd and 4th echelon maintenance as well. Forklifts, cranes, generators, 5-ton trucks, and High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) require more time to fix when combined with a shortage of repair parts and equipment that is growing older. The average age of 5-ton trucks, HMMWVs, and generators in 2d Force Service Support Group is 17 years. The expected life span for a 5-ton truck and HMMWV is 18 years while a generator is 19 years. Once again, service life extension programs, combined with Marines working 14+ hour days, 6 days a week, is providing a near-term solution, but does not address future concerns.

It is clear that we are meeting todays challenge in maintaining a combat ready force, but at great cost, both in terms of maintenance manpower and repair parts investment. We struggle with a short-term fix since we are, in effect, mortgaging our future. In order to meet tomorrows demands, we need to begin modernization today.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The facilities where our Marines eat, sleep, and work are in need of upgrade and maintenance as well. Some personnel assigned to our Military Occupational Specialty producing schools at Camp Johnson and Camp Geiger live and work in World War II vintage facilities. The increasing cost of maintaining these facilities continues to escalate along with the backlog of maintenance and repair (BMAR). This year, that backlog is over $200 million with over $140 million in critical BMAR.

TRAINING

Training is another area of concern I would like to address. While II MEF remains committed to, and provides, fully trained expeditionary forces to the CINCs, the funding to support this training and the availability of suitable training areas falls short of the requirement. The flight hour program for 2d Marine Aircraft Wing is funded at $3,150 per flight hour this past year, but the average cost to date has been $3,664 per flight hour. Part of the difference between funded and actual costs can be attributed to starting FY 98 with a backlog of parts and maintenance equating to approximately $30 million. It should not be misconstrued that this use of next years funds means that all aircraft were being maintained. Only aircraft required to meet operational requirements were maintained as combat ready. Where shelf stock was not maintained or depleted, maintenance was delayed until the next FY. The downward spiral effect of borrowing on next years funding has been previously discussed and is well illustrated by the FY 98 $30 million bow wave.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune remains our most complete amphibious training facility. The recent acquisition of the 41,000 acre Greater Sandy Run Area (GSRA) will significantly improve our local training capabilities. In order to fully optimize the GSRA ranges, we must fully fund the procurement and long-term maintenance of state-of-the-art training devices for these ranges.

MODERNIZATION

One common theme that has been prevalent throughout my discussion of the four previous issues-- personnel, equipment, infrastructure, and training-- is modernization. Modernization, we believe, is the key to our continued readiness. We are maintaining our current level of readiness at the expense of our future. We must begin to invest now in order to ensure that II MEF does not show up to a fight in the year 2010 with 1960s and 1970s era equipment. Accelerated procurement of the AAAV and MV-22, procurement of follow-on equipment to replace our aging trucks, HMMWVs and other ground equipment, and development of the Joint Strike Fighter are all examples of programs that need to be aggressively pursued.

As always, your Marines will fight and win Americas battles, maintain our forward presence, and conduct operations other than war. This is becoming increasingly more difficult as we are asked to deploy to more places and do more missions with fewer Marines, older equipment, less Operations and Maintenance dollars, depleted repair parts bins, and degraded training assets. In short, what we really need is to upgrade our equipment to fight in the next century and ensure we have adequate facilities in which to train with that equipment. Your support in these endeavors helps us in keeping our sacred promise to you and all Americans to be ready when the Nation cries, Send in the Marines!

On behalf of my fellow commanders, I want to thank you again for giving us the opportunity to testify before you and provide a view of our current state of readiness as well as our vision for the future. Those of us honored to wear the eagle, globe, and anchor as part of the II Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune remain always faithful and at least for now, ready to answer our Nations 911 calls.

  The Division stands ready as the Ground Combat Element (GCE) of II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) to deploy anywhere in support of our country to fight and win. All Division units that deploy for operational commitments are manned, equipped and trained to execute a full spectrum of missions that may be assigned. This statement is as valid for small Mobile Training Teams from Small Craft Company currently operating in Latin America, as it is for LF6F Battalion Landing Teams (BLTs). Readiness and warfighting are top priorities in the division and all units that deploy for training or operational commitments are prepared to meet any subsequent real world challenge that may arise.

However, while the Division is heavily engaged in worldwide deployments and training exercises, the cost is high in terms of personnel, maintenance and training opportunities for the units in garrison. Right now 42% of the Divisions Marines are deployed away from Camp Lejeune for standing deployments or training commitments. The challenge in maintaining this capability rests in several critical areas. I will cite three examples.

1. Increase in cost of repairs. Current variety and funding support of depot level maintenance and rebuild/exchange programs have permitted O&M costs to remain relatively stable. This is expected to change commencing in FY 1999 with the termination of the Inspect and Repair Only As Necessary (IROAN) Program for 5-ton trucks and High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs). Additionally, Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) maintenance costs should increase to reflect the effects of its replacement program, the Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability/Rebuilt Standard (RAM/RS). The Division has typically enjoyed 75 rebuilt AAV vehicles per year from the IROAN program, while RAM/RS is projected to deliver only 25 vehicles per year. We expect the Riverine Crafts Operations and Maintenance (O&M) to become more stable as the Engineer Change Proposals are accomplished. The benefits are already being realized with the reduction in engine replacement from a high of 23 engines per year in Fiscal Year (FY) 96 to a low of 7 in FY 98. This reflects engineering solutions in Riverine Assault Craft design; however, a commercial contract for Riverine Craft maintenance is still required to offset the effects of manpower shortages in critical related Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs). Annual estimates are $1.2 million per year to accomplish maintenance and supply services for this capability.

2. Depot Level Maintenance Programs. Increased maintenance time and personnel demands, due to aging equipment, adversely impact available training time and require additional maintenance man hours from Marines deployed and in garrison. Our equipment is getting older and cost for repairs and replacements are increasing exorbitantly. The cumulative effects of exposure to salt water further degrade equipment readiness. Delayed modernization has had a significant impact on readiness. While resulting in short-term savings, restoration and service life extension programs have been costly in terms of repair parts, repair time, and out of service frequency. The 21.3% of annual equipment restoration currently provided is adequate to sustain full readiness, but not without a progressive increase in maintenance man-hours and O&M funding required. In summary, the Division continues to meet every challenge in sustaining equipment readiness, however that effort is achieved with consistent depot level support and the dedication of Marines who are working longer and harder than ever before.  

3. Training Environment. The Combined Arms Exercise (CAX) remains the centerpiece of Division training and perhaps the most valuable single deployment a battalion executes. Most of the remaining training is conducted aboard Camp Lejeune ranges where the limited training areas and environmental concerns are major impediments. True combined arms training is impossible to achieve on local ranges and the speed, range, and lethality of our new weapons systems are often limitations rather than enhancements to training. The opening of the Greater Sandy Run Area will alleviate some problems, allowing for at home live fire training for tanks and Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) and additional infantry ranges. Currently Fort A. P. Hill is the only facility on the East Coast to allow live fire training in mechanized breaching operations. Some local facilities could be improved with modernization. For example the Close Quarter Battle (CQB) shooting house at Stone Bay is inferior when compared to like facilities used by other services. The only Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) range on the East Coast is located at Viegues Island, Puerto Rico. That facility does provide a full range of combined arms ranges for such training, but the high cost of transportation and limited availability of amphibious transportation and NSFS platforms have significantly constrained our exploitation of this supporting arms in past years.  

The Division remains capable of meeting its contingency commitments, but at a cost of high personnel, maintenance and operational tempo.

  As the Aviation Combat Element of II Marine Expeditionary Force, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (2d MAW)is engaged around the world providing fully trained aviation combat elements to our forward deployed Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs), combat ready F/A-18 and EA-6B squadrons in support of our geographic Commanders in Chief (CINCs), and integrated Marine F/A-18 squadrons with forwarded deployed Navy Carrier Air Wings.

We are fully prepared for these missions. While we are confident that we can maintain the readiness of our forward deployed squadrons, we are concerned about the long term readiness of the force as a whole and will address three specific areas.

1. Aging Airframes. The aging of our aircraft inventory is affecting readiness. Medium lift helicopters (CH-46E), our aerial refueling platform (KC-130), and our utility helicopter (UH-1N) are all good examples. Even with their Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), our CH-46Es have nearly met their planned service life. The other two airframes have already exceeded their planned service life. By the time we completely replace the CH-46E with the MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft, we will be flying airframes that are 47 years old. While the Quadrennial Defense Board (QDR) allowed us to procure 11 additional MV-22s within the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) than originally planned, we still need to ramp up to the maximum economical production rate. Our fleet of KC-130Fs is approaching 40 years of age -- I am refueling today off some of the same KC-130Fs that I did as a First Lieutenant in Viet Nam. Congressional plus-ups in Fiscal Year (FY) 97 and FY 98 for five KC-130Js are greatly appreciated; however, top-line budget constraints preclude the Marine Corps from budgeting for more. Therefore, the KC-130Fs forecast service life is indefinite. The FY99 budget allows for the necessary R&D to upgrade our UH-1Ns and AH-1Ws (4BN/4BW); however, actual procurement of this critical upgrade program does not begin until FY02.

2d MAW continues to provide aviation support to the Nation's "911" Force with aircraft that have passed their original service life, and will continue to do so as long as parts and maintainers are available to keep these aircraft safe for our Marines. With the increase in operational and deployment tempo (OP/DEPTEMPO), lack of parts on the shelves and the demands on our Marines to maintain these aircraft, it is an ever increasingly challenge to comply with the Marine Aviation Campaign Plan goal (objective) of maintaining healthy aircraft.

2. Fully Funded Flight Hour Program. Because of the age of our aviation assets, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing has seen a 45 percent increase in our average cost per flight hour (CPH) in the last three fiscal years -- from $2,531 per hour in FY96 to $3,664 per hour in FY98 to date. This is a result of under-funding, decreasing mean time between failure, increasing charges for older components, and fewer spare parts competitors to keep costs down -- all factors beyond our control.

A chronic problem faced by 2d MAW is the under-funding of the flight hour program (FHP) which manifests itself in our "Bow Wave". While we can approach our flight hour goals, the under-funding of the FHP program leads to a shortage of aircraft parts with a critical reduction in readiness and sustainability. Shelf-stock is not replaced and maintenance is deferred or delayed on repairable parts until the next FY's funding becomes available.

Aircraft mission capable rates in 2d MAW have declined from 79.5% mission capable (MC) in FY-95 to 71.7% MC this year, while full mission capable (FMC) rates decreased from 74.3% to 63.4% during the same period. At the same time, the non-mission capable supply (NMCS) rates have risen from 11.4% in FY95 to 19.0% today.

FY-98 started with a backlog of parts and maintenance of approximately $30 million (bow wave) and FY-99 is forecast to begin with an estimated $20 million (bow wave). To make up this shortfall in consumable and repairable parts takes several months after the new FY to recover the supply pipeline. An example of how this impacts readiness is that in FY-95 Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 14 had an average of 110.3 aircraft assigned and 10.87% of these aircraft were NMCS. In FY-98 they had an average of 90.16 aircraft assigned and of these 25.5% of these were NMCS.

Costs are extremely difficult to calculate. Even when we forecast them to our best ability, unknown variables render the forecast unusable. For example in FY-98 cost escalators dictated by Navy Inventory Control Point (NAVICP) raised the costs of our aircraft parts 25% without a budgetary window to correct our deficiencies. This increase seemed quite unreasonable since the cost of inflation was only 3%. Action taken to better estimate the cost of doing business by re-pricing the FHP using prior year execution cost data will help greatly. In short, we have sustained equipment readiness to the maximum extent possible within our budget. 

3. Funding for Y2K Compliance. The start of the 21st Century brings many expectations and challenges. While technological advances, like computers, have enhanced our capabilities, the turn of the century is bringing a possible readiness crisis. The Y2K issue has a direct impact on not only our command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) capabilities, but affects our warfighting capability in the potential disruption or failure on our weapons, navigation, maintenance, supply and facility systems.

To deal with this potential crisis will require a substantial amount of planning and funding to replace or repair affected systems so that we are ready to send young Americans in harms way.

  Second Force Service Support Group (2d FSSG) remains fully ready to accomplish the myriad of combat service support missions assigned. In recent years, we have witnessed increased operational and deployment tempo against the backdrop of aging equipment and an inability to fully finance logistics automated technology initiatives to improve our processes. At this snapshot in time we have forces deployed or imminently prepared to deploy in support of three Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs), the standby air contingency force(s), several direct Commander in Chief (CINC) missions such as Movement Control Teams in OPERATION JOINT FORGE, a Medical Detachment in Haiti, an engineer project in the Azores, a Maintenance Detachment in Panama in support of small craft, as well as several Marines in combined arms training (CAX) in Twentynine Palms, California, and the Combat Service Support Element (CSSE) - Next Generation developing future CSS operations at the tactical level. This fall, the tempo continues with a Maritime Prepositioned Force off-load for Dynamic Mix in Turkey, Fuertes Defensas/United Endeavor for U.S. Southern Command, and engineer projects in several locations.

Due to the very nature of the FSSG organization, we deploy and operate as task organized MEU Service Support Groups (MSSGs) and CSS Detachments. This method of employment puts an ever greater burden on our permanent battalions, a price we consciously pay in order to be most ready when and where we are most needed. Our foremost concern is the increased equipment maintenance burden passed back after deployments or training exercises. Next is a more nuanced tradeoff regarding leaders and experienced personnel. It is not uncommon to have officers and staff noncomissioned officers deploy to MSSGs/CSSEs while their remain behind battalions, companies, and sections train without their leadership and guidance for months at a time. While we have always developed junior leaders in this manner, the trend is edging ever downwards, and remaining battalions must continue to provide fully ready units and equipment for operations, deployments and exercises. The conundrum is aggravated in yet another way: all too often, very junior officers are sent forward and asked to act in environments for which their experience levels and training has not prepared them.

The 2d FSSG deploys with its personnel, equipment and cargo ready to go... tasks made ever more difficult due to the aging of equipment. Older motor transport and engineer equipment such as forklifts, generators, cranes, High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMVV's), 5-ton trucks, etc... take more time to fix and repair parts are harder to obtain. In addition to our own equipment, 2d FSSG has witnessed an increased workload as a result of our mission to provide support for aging equipment throughout II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), such as the aging, maintenance-intensive Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) and Light Armored Vehicle (LAV). Although upgrades such as the AAV Improved Reliability and Maintainability (IRAM) transmission and the Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability/Rebuilt Standard (RAM/RS) and the LAV service life exstension program (SLEP) are underway, for the near term we must still devote significant resources and time to keep them running since only modest investments have been made in research and development (R&D) and modernization in the past decade. 

While we are very proud of what these extraordinary Marines and sailors accomplish, the endless intense preparation, training, deployment, and often immediate redeployment does indeed require significant sacrifice by service members--and their families--which is hard to quantify, but often counted in separation time, birthdays spent apart, anniversaries alone, and other quality of life metrics. Marines and their families may accept these frequent separations, but when they are at home station they are still seemingly not at home: the aged equipment requires intense corrective maintenance to prepare for the next deployment. Once again, the solution is long hours approaching 14+ hour days, six or more days a week. In summary, we are ready to go to war wherever or whenever required, but such a pace takes a toll on families and is becoming harder due to older equipment.

The 2d FSSG continues to meet its requirements to provide well trained, combat ready Marines and equipment for deploying units. MSSGs and CSSDs, as forward deployed units, are the most important sourcing priority, and our battalions stretch limited resources to ensure this warfighting capability continues. The primary concerns in sustaining warfighting capabilities over the long-haul remains maintaining equipment readiness for an aging fleet and personnel (critical Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs) coupled with OPTEMPO).

1. Equipment readiness. The problems inherent with aging equipment, coupled with relentless operational tempo, pose significant readiness challenges. The most efficient solution would be new or fully recapitalized equipment, especially engineer and motor transport.  

2. Personnel readiness/experience. Multiple, competing requirements have forced downward the age and experience levels of Marines deployed. This has potential problems in a high-tempo environment as deployed units would greatly benefit from more seasoned and experienced individuals in the technical MOS's.  

3. Automated Innovation. Due to competing requirements, we have been too slow to fully finance and implement a number of logistics information systems that would not only improve the state of readiness but enhance our response time in recocking forces after intense training and deployments. Improvements coming our way--but we need them now!-- include Asset Tracking Logistics and Supply System, phase II plus (ATLASS II+), Transportation Coordination Automated Information Management System II, phase II (TCAIMS II), as well as basic computer upgrades to ensure our staffs can adequately communicate and interoperate with joint and higher headquarters staffs.

2D FSSG Readiness Imperatives

* Modernize Aging Tactical Engineer and Motor Transport Fleets

* Modernize Logistics Automated Information Systems

* Get and Retain Quality Marines and Sailors

  As II Marine Expeditionary Forces (II MEF) principal warfighter supporter, Camp Lejeune must remain focused on meeting those short and long term readiness needs identified by the operating forces. This base provides three critical functions for the operating forces of II MEF it provides the ranges, training areas, and training support the MEF needs to create trained and ready operating forces; it serves as the launching pad from which the MEF leaves and to which the MEF reaches back to sustain itself; and it provides for the quality of life needs of the Marines of II MEF and their families.

We in the supporting establishment are of one mind with the operating forces as concerns the absolute requirement to modernize. We clearly see that we cannot separate long- term readiness and modernization. The money and time spent on maintaining aging equipment has, in many cases, reached the point of diminishing returns. This statement applies equally to the money spent on maintaining old infrastructure. However, as warfighting supporters we agree that the priority must go to modernizing the operating forces.

In order to fund the Marine Corps equipment modernization programs, bases and stations will be required to bear a significant funding reduction over the next five years and extending into the foreseeable future. MCB Camp Lejeune base operations funding will decline from Fiscal Year (FY) 99-05. By 05 the decline will reach nearly $12 million per year. We cannot maintain operational readiness without these modernization programs. The risk to our operating forces absent modernization is unacceptably high. However, we recognize that there are no free lunches and that our decision to take much of this modernization funding from the supporting establishment is not without risk. My concerns can be broken down into short and mid-term, and long term.

1. Short and mid-term. Focus on fixing the perennial deficiency in Base Operations: FY 99 deficiency is $5.8 million. This deficiency inevitably leads to growing a backlog of maintenance and repair (BMAR). BMAR is now over $200 million with over $140 million in critical BMAR. Continue addressing the requirement for 12,773 bachelor enlisted quarters manspaces. Planned and funded construction for only 800 manspaces through FY 97 will not substantially support unit integrity goals and quality of life standards. Actively pursue funding to reduce the 3632 unit family housing deficit. Marines and their families will continue to reside in aging quarters even with privatization initiatives to build 100 units by FY 02 .

2. Long term: That the combination of growing BMAR, aging infrastructure and outsourcing and privatization initiatives will create a situation wherein all flexibility to respond to changing 21st Century requirements is lost. As the new training support requirements necessary to support Operational Maneuver from the Sea evolve, I am concerned about our supporting establishments ability to respond to them. As our housing and MWR dollars are stretched ever thinner, I am concerned with our ability to provide the kind of quality of life that will ensure our ability to retain the superb new Marines we are currently recruiting and training.