Marine Amphibious Forces:

A Look at Their Readiness, Role, and Mission

LCD-78-417A: Published: Feb 6, 1979. Publicly Released: Feb 6, 1979.

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The Marine Corps' size, structure, and ability to perform some of its more demanding missions raise questions about its capabilities. Some problems relating to these areas and the Corps' overall readiness affect not only the II Marine Amphibious Force (II MAF) but also the entire Corps. However, since II MAF has a priority North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) mission in a European war, GAO's review was concentrated in this area.

There are problems affecting the Corps' ability to fulfill its priority mission. The Corps faces difficulties in deploying in the amphibious assault mode due to inadequate numbers of amphibious ships available when and where needed to transport troops and equipment and to land equipment over the beach. This is the result of two factors: about half of the Navy's amphibious ship fleet is located in the Pacific Ocean and there are always a number of amphibious ships routinely in maintenance and drydock not readily available for deployment. The II MAF had on hand most of the equipment authorized; however, equipment condition was not as good as reported, and it would be difficult to deploy much of the equipment quickly in a combat ready condition. The supply systems supporting the II MAF were short of parts, contributing to the reduced readiness of equipment and weapons. There were personnel shortages in a number of essential military occupational speciality fields, particularly those that required formal training in the more complex skill areas. While the Corps' most demanding mission is meeting its NATO commitment, its resources are distributed to provide all its forces with roughly equal capabilities. Further, Marine aviation receives a preeminence of funding over ground forces, with a resultant possible degradation to the ground forces. The Corps' practicality against a foe armed with contemporary weapons supported by advanced technology is uncertain.

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