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US Navy lacks warships needed to train a Marine brigade, top officer says

December 04, 2017
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A top Marine Corps officer recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and said that the U.S. Navy doesn’t have enough warships to support the Marine Corps when training combat operations on a large scale.

The Marine Corps’ Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations, Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, told the subcommittee on Friday that the Navy’s current fleet of 32 amphibious assault ships “falls short” of what is needed to train for a mission on a brigade level, and that this “negatively impacts the ability of joint naval forces to train, particularly in large-scale formations, which harms readiness,” The Washington Free Beacon reported.

Beaudreault “said the training shortcomings have left at risk the ‘core competency’ of the Marine Corps and Navy to move a combat force from ship-to-shore to rapidly penetrate enemy battle space,” according to the report.

“We can do some training […] through virtual systems, but at some point you have to put the ships to sea and go through a mission rehearsal,” he said, The Washington Free Beacon reported. “The ability to generate the number of ships required to train at a Marine expeditionary brigade level just simply isn’t there, so we take it in bite-size chunks.”

The U.S. Navy would need 38 amphibious warships to meet operational demands, a number that wouldn’t be fulfilled until 2030 due to budget constraints, the Free Beacon reported.

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The Washington Free Beacon also reported:

report released Friday by the Government Accountability Office identified the lack of available amphibious ships on which to train sailors as the most prevalent factor impeding training completion.

In 2016, for example, data collected from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which operates in the Pacific, revealed the Navy was unable to fulfill more than 90 percent of requests for support training due to a lack of ships.

“These deficits can create a potential gap between the Marine Corps’ ‘ready bench’ of units and, if called on, these units could be left scrambling to obtain last-minute training, risking their ability to be fully ready once deployed and underway,” testified Cary Russell, director of the defense capabilities and management team at GAO.

Both Beaudreault and Navy Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy, who also testified Friday, agreed with the study’s findings. They both stressed the need for stable, predictable, and adequate funding over several years to confront readiness challenges.

“The most important actions that Congress can take now is to immediately repeal the caps on defense spending under the Budget Control Act and provide a defense appropriation that provides a sufficient, consistent, predictable funding,” Beaudreault testified.

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