Armed Forces News

Optimism that stemmed from a favorable 2019 budget for the Marine Corps has dissipated because of a heavy operations tempo, Gen. Robert B. Neller, the service’s commandant, believes.
In a March 18 letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, Neller cited the contingencies that stretched the budget beyond expectations:
* Deployment to the southwest border.
* Unplanned and un-budged Dynamic Force Employment.
* An unfunded increase in the size of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin.
* An unplanned and un-budgeted upgrade to aqueous free-forming foam, carried out at congressional request.
* Unplanned adjustments to the basic allowance for housing (BAH), for privatized housing.
* An unplanned increase in civilian pay.
* Border security funding transfers.
Because of the additional expenses, Neller said, numerous planned exercises for 2019 had to be reduced in scope or canceled altogether. In turn, these cancelations and reductions are having a direct impact on Marine Corps readiness, he said.
Neller also noted that the service still has yet to resume normal operations at Camp Lejeune, Air Station New River, and Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina, which were ravaged when Hurricane Florence ravaged the area last September.
“Canceling or reducing key training events and exercises is not desired nor an easy decision,” Neller wrote. “However, without outside fiscal assistance, these measures are required.”