via Marine Times....
The United Kingdom’s recent decision to drastically cut its military, including a decision not to purchase the jump-jet version of the Joint Strike Fighter [“Analysts: U.K. move to drop F-35B won’t raise costs,” Nov. 1], holds a lesson for our own similarly challenging economic times.
Britain’s fleet once policed the seas and now tries to keep afloat a token measure of their past maritime dominance. Their decisions make near-term fiscal sense, but cut at the quick of their national military capability. We are faced with many of these same, tempting cost-cutting decisions, and we’d be well-served to make our decisions aligned with long-term strategic interests, rather than current financials.
As Marines, we pride ourselves on being most ready when the nation is least, but no longer can that readiness be defined inexpensively by a full canteen, bandoleer and Army hand-me-downs. Nine years at war and casualties have changed that ultra low-cost “have gun, will travel” construct. Today, the nation requires the Corps to fill a band of military requirements short of the Army, but more robust than the exquisite skills of the U.S. Special Operations Command community. We prevent conflict with our forward-deployed presence and, if needed, we buy time for follow-on forces to arrive or negotiation to begin. To fill that middleweight-fighter requirement, the Corps must retain its essential character as an expeditionary air-ground general purpose force — a force with a fighting weight exceeding the sum of its pounds.
Beyond our bedrock requirement for amphibious shipping, we are not beholden to any single program, but our young Marines need the capabilities resident in certain platforms to safeguard lives and prevail in conflict. The short-take-off-and-vertical-landing JSF, MV-22 Osprey and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle are not inexpensive, but are a value when compared to the lives they will save and the operational flexibility they will provide. They are an investment in our children’s future, a hedge against the arc of history and the necessary premium of peace to prevent the terrible cost of war.
Col. Bryan Salas, director of public affairs
Headquarters Marine Corps