Marines focus $53B proposed budget on speed-up plan to modernize, adapt for future conflicts
Stars and Stripes March 13, 2023
WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps is requesting a budget of more than $50 billion to help speed up plans to modernize and reshape the service to better respond to future conflicts against military powers, such as China.
The Navy’s budget request, which includes the Marine Corps, asks for a funding increase of $11 billion for fiscal 2024, which begins in October.
The budget plan, which must be approved by Congress, accelerates the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 program by increasing funding by $705 million next year. Force Design 2030 is a plan for the service to modernize and adapt for future marine warfare environments.
Roughly $53 billion of the Navy’s $255 billion budget request would go to the Marine Corps. The plan provides funding for about 206,000 active-duty Marines and Reserve members — a few hundred more than projected for the Marines for 2023 — as well as three new Marine Littoral Regiments and five traditional infantry regiments.
Almost two-thirds of the Marine Corps budget would fund personnel, operations and maintenance, according to the budget proposal. About 25% would fund procuring weapons, vehicles and equipment and about 10% is for construction projects and research and development.
The Marine Corps funding plan is $1.3 billion more than its enacted budget from 2023.
“This is a strategy-driven budget,” Undersecretary of the Navy Erik Raven told reporters. “The budget reflects the nation’s priorities … and solidifies [Navy] Secretary [Carlos] Del Toro’s enduring priorities of maintaining maritime dominance, empowering warfighters and strengthening strategic partnerships.”
In its National Defense Strategy last fall, the Pentagon called China the top “pacing challenge” for the U.S. and underscored the importance of maintaining stability and limiting Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Chinese aggression in recent years, including an accelerated warship-building program, has persuaded Pentagon leaders that the Marine Corps must be more sophisticated and its forces more adaptable.
“Strengthening maritime dominance requires us to rapidly field the concepts and capabilities that create advantage relative to our pacing threat,” according to the budget request. “That is why we are making the investments now … to ensure we remain the most lethal, capable and globally postured force on this planet for decades to come.”
Notably, the budget request does not include additional amphibious warships, which is something Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has requested. San Antonio-class amphibious transport ships are used to move Marines and equipment.
Del Toro said months ago that there would be a pause in building amphibious warships so the Navy could study how many it needs and for what purpose.
Here are other figures from the Marine Corps’ budget request for fiscal 2024:
• $17.3 billion in aircraft procurement, including the F-35B and F-35C fighter jets.
• $15.6 billion for pay, allowances and benefits, including 5.2% pay increase.
• Almost $7 billion in weapons procurement, including tactical Tomahawk missiles.
• $4.5 billion for installations/facilities and $1.3 billion in new construction.
• $85 million for education at Marine Corps University in Virginia.
• $85 million in funding for junior ROTC and tuition assistance programs.