Mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles are staged in vehicle lot of the Retrograde and Redeployment in support of Reset and Reconstitution Operational Group at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, on March 26. The Marine Corps plans to donate the majority of the MRAPs still in Afghanistan to partner nations. (Cpl. Alejandro Pena / Marine Corps)
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Very few of the Marine Corps’ 1,200 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles still in Afghanistan will be traveling back to the U.S., the Corps’ deputy commandant for installations and logistics said this week.
Speaking at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Gen. William Faulkner revealed elements of a plan to donate unwanted MRAPs to partner nations within Central Command as Marines balance efforts to retrograde from Afghanistan with a mandate to get lighter and more compact as a service.
“The bottom line is, we don’t need them,” Faulkner said of the MRAPs remaining in Afghanistan. “We don’t need as many as we have today.”
The Pentagon has been planning to decrease its fleet of the hulking MRAPs as the war in Afghanistan winds down. In recent years, the U.S. military has expanded its requests for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, a more agile competing technology.
The Marine Corps has about 4,000 MRAPs in its inventory, Faulkner said, and officials have calculated they want to keep fewer than 1,500 of the 14-ton machines after Operation Enduring Freedom draws to a close in 2014.
“We’re looking for partner nations throughout Afghanistan to provide these to them as a donation, as extra defense articles,” Faulkner said. “We plan on only keeping those that we believe are absolutely necessary to minimize our risk.”
The few MRAPs in Afghanistan that will be retained for Marine Corps use will be parceled out, with some going to military prepositioning programs with Military Sealift Command or in Norway or Kuwait. Others will be brought back to U.S. bases for training programs, such as the pre-deployment exercises aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Faulkner said the quantities of equipment being retrograded from Afghanistan were unchanged by the sequestration budget cuts that took effect in March.
What may alter the MRAP donation plan, however, is the current estimated length of time between a partner country requesting vehicles and actually receiving the equipment: a bureaucratic 210 days, Faulkner said.
This would include a review by the State Department to ensure the requesting country can support the donated equipment and final approval by the Joint Staff.
“There are some concerns over the (donation system) not being responsive enough,” Faulkner said. “So they’re trying to neck that down so we’re more responsive. But we would much rather provide this to a partner nation of U.S. Central Command’s than actually cut it up into razor blades.”