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Report: Joseph Dunford Faces Military Size, Budget, Modernization Issues if Confirmed as USMC Commandant

As Gen. Joseph Dunford awaits confirmation as U.S. Marine Corps commandant, he is expected to soon address challenges resulting from the reduction in force size and sequestration, Defense News reported Tuesday.

Paul McLeary reports the Marines are seeing their numbers fall to 174,000 or lower from the planned 182,000 as sequestration is set to return in fiscal year 2016.

Dunford would be expected to “strike a not-so-delicate balance between an expanded post-Afghanistan operational tempo and the equipping and modernization needs of a force in motion,” writes McLeary.

According to the report, the U.S. military is also taking on evolved roles in global and national crisis response and advisory and assistance to allies, which present another issue with the reduction in size.

“The demands are higher than pre-9/11, so you’re going to try and do all that extra stuff with the pre-9/11 force numbers,” said Dakota Wood, a former strategist for the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.

With Dunford’s confirmation seen as “relatively straight-forward,” he will also need to address the need for stability and funds for the modernization of the Marines’ ground and amphibious vehicles.

McLeary reports on the plans to replace the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, upgrade hundreds of tracked amphibious assault vehicles and purchase hundreds of wheeled amphibious combat vehicles and 4,500 joint light tactical vehicles.

With sequestration, some of the missions and programs are expected to be cut in order to meet operational needs, especially with the shift in focus to crisis response highlighted in a strategy document released in April.

“The Marines want to have one battalion deployed, one in reserve, and one training up at any given time, but with growing global commitments and fewer forces, Dunford and his staff would have to re-examine that as well,” the report said.

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