Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marine Corps End Strength: 100k

Just the other day, I was discussing sequestration with a fellow officer.  After we got into the discussion of what it means for the Marine Corps, we began to imagine about what would happen if over the next several years there were further cuts to DoD.  As something of a thought experiment, we asked ourselves, what would a Marine Corps with an end strength of 100k look like?

First of all, we figured you'd move Tanks, AAVs to the reserves.  Then reduce the LAR Bns to 1 Company per coast, putting the rest in the reserves. Much like the old Self-propelled howitzers we moth-balled after Desert Storm, all of these vehicles are big, heavy, and have a massive maintenance and logistics footprint in both manpower and materiel terms.  If we had to keep one of the two, we imagined AAV would be maintained in some sort of cadre format.

Second of all, the attitude moving the Marine Corps to throw Tanks and LAR to the reserves would be an attitude of "lighter, more expeditionary."  With that, you'd probably see a gradual shift away from the 155mm in Artillery as the standard tactical artillery piece to something lighter.  For example, we might move to the 105mm, while maintaining our current 120mm mortar capability. 

In spite of phasing out the 155mm from Battalions, we imagine the Marine Corps would maintain the HIMARS because they provide a much higher cost-benefit, and are the best GS weapon system the Marine Corps owns for shaping the battlefield. If we hold onto them, and we should if we went down to 100k, then the Marine Corps should organize them and any 155mm howitzers the Marine Corps keeps in the inventory into a Force Artillery unit. 

In regard to the airwing, not really sure what would happen there.  One thing that was brought up was that there'd be a possibility of dropping fixed wing altogether, focusing on our VTOL platforms. If we did get rid of most or all of our fixed wing, then it would be natural to see the shift mentioned above in artillery to HIMARS and mortars, both of which have high angle trajectories, making it easier to deconflict with our Cobras and Hueys. That said, 105mm howitzers at the Battalion Artillery, and 155s at the Force Artillery level would still be important to give a sufficiently wide breadth of fire support options.

In regard to the "macro" organization, we imagine there'd be two divisions, each comprised of two expeditionary brigades.  Each brigade would be commanded by a Colonel, and would be comprised of two infantry battalions, an artillery battalion (-), a mixed rotary wing squadron, and a logistic battalion minimum.

More on the supporting establishment, and reserve force structure later.

If you have thoughts, please comment below.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Brevet Promotions, Cost Saving Solution?

What's the difference between a LtCol and a LtCol Brevet? 
The pay check.
As Sequester hits, and the current economic situation suggesting potential for further future cuts, the the US Government, and DoD in paticular, are naturally considering various cost saving measures.  One measure that should be implemented, in this author's humble opinion, is a "brevet" system of promotion. Not identical, but similar to our current method of frocking, and also not identical, but similar to the former use of  "brevet ranks" by the US Military