Marine leadership to industry: We need more for less
A panel at this year’s Modern Day Marine Report to Industry painted an austere and uncertain fiscal picture, but said the need for new equipment from industry will not vanish.
Ariane Whittemore, assistant deputy commandant for the programs and resources department at Headquarters Marine Corps kicked off a three-person panel with reassuring words for industry.
The draw down we are heading into is not the end of days, but rather part of a cyclical pattern seen after every major conflict since, she said. It has been predictable for the last 60 years since the U.S. victory over Germany and Japan in World War II.
The panel’s other members, the commander of Marine Corps Systems Command Brig. Gen. Frank Kelley and Program Executive Officer for Land Systems Marine Corps Bill Taylor, echoed her words saying that while there will be less money for research and procurement, but the need for new equipment to win tomorrow’s unforeseen conflicts will remain.
Not all Whittenmore’s words were rosy, however. According to her office’s analysis of historic trends, industry and military leaders can expect about a 30 percent cut in spending after Afghanistan. She also pointed out that during this draw down, pressures to trim spending are compounded by a weak economy at home and abroad.
The fiscal 2013 budget for example, has 13 percent less buying power than the 2011 budget when accounting for inflation. That is even before taking into account Congressional markups to the budget and other external pressures that will shrink spending.
Because manpower, and operational and maintenance costs do not change rapidly, most of the cuts in spending will come from research and procurement. But stopping the development and buying of new equipment is not an option.
“What we need you, industry, to do is develop greater capability for less money,” she said.
A prime example has been the development of rechargeable batteries that reduce the need for resupply by convoy. That saves money, time, and lives while making Marines on the ground more independent. They need the same kind of innovation in all spheres to include large vehicles.
Kelly echoed her assertion that lean times are ahead. While harsh, it is the reality and industry and military leaders must work together to remain ever ready, despite a shrinking budget. Also, industry must look to develope lighter, smaller equipment as the Marine Corps returns to the sea and refocuses on the Pacific.
“If you can’t fit on a ship, if you can’t get on or off, you are irrelevant,” he said.