LIEUTENANT GENERAL CAROL A. MUTTER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR
MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PERSONNEL
18 MARCH 1998
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee:
I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the Corps' most precious asset--the individual Marine. It is people that win wars--not machines! I am dedicated to providing this nation with Marines capable of accomplishing any assigned mission, any time, anywhere. To do this requires a careful balance between the size of our force and the modernization of our equipment; between the quality of life of our Marines and operational readiness; and between individual opportunity and institutional necessity. I know the Congress recognizes this, and I'm grateful for the support you've shown by visiting our Marines, listening to their concerns, and responding to their individual needs as well as those of the institution.
RECRUITING AND RETENTION
The health of our Corps directly depends upon the people we
attract and retain. Retention will suffer unless our Marines
are enjoying a lifestyle comparable to those in the private
sector they've sworn to defend. Military compensation--which
includes regular pay, retirement, and non-pay benefits-- needs
to be competitive with that available in civilian life for our
recruiting and retention efforts to be successful. By providing
such a standard of living, we show our Marines and their
families that the nation recognizes and appreciates their
As we told this Subcommittee two weeks ago, recruiting continues to be a challenge due to increased accessions, and because we also face keen competition within the available market. That market, which grows only slightly over the next couple of years, is characterized by negative sociological trends which include increased drug and alcohol use, broken families and lack of physical conditioning. Our Transformation process is designed to overcome these negative trends.
Other problematic areas that must be addressed are increased college attendance and a strong economy. Combined, these market characteristics will make it more difficult to find and enlist well qualified applicants. But with adequate resourcing and quality leadership in the field we will achieve our future goals and missions in spite of the difficult recruiting environment.
For two years now the Marine Corps has been experiencing higher than normal rates of pilot resignations. Although this situation is far from resolved, we are seeing optimistic signals that the worst has passed. For example, through February of FY97 we had 83 pilots resign, while during the same period in FY98 we've had 60.
On the enlisted side, our predominantly junior force results in a very high turnover rate. This is deliberate turnover, and we continue to meet our first term reenlistment goals each year. This results in a properly shaped career force which in turn produces equitable promotion opportunity and timing for all Marines.
The Corps is dedicated to pursuing initiatives which provide a complete range of career opportunities for all Marines. We are achieving slow, steady progress in meeting the SecNav goals for minority officer accessions, and minority officer representation throughout all grades (it takes over 20 years to grow from Second Lieutenant to Colonel). We have increased the number of female enlisted accessions, consistent with revised policies, the propensity to enlist, and our obligation to the nation to provide the finest warfighting organization possible. Our gender policies for boot camp, follow-on training, and assignment are sound; they fit the Corps' missions and are designed to facilitate making the Transformation from civilian to U.S. Marine.
FORCE MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Quality of Life
With the help of Marine leaders at all levels, Quality of Life
(QoL) has become a commitment. Providing an ever-improving QoL
is consistent with our tradition of "Taking care of our own."
Providing the right quality of life is more than just
reciprocating the devotion and loyalty we as a Corps receive
from our Marines; it is a fundamental part of the overall
Of course, providing the right quality of life requires more than just Marine Corps leadership. Congress is also a critical link, and we deeply appreciate the concern--and the funding--you have provided in the QoL arena. We will continue to enhance QoL as our fiscal contraints allow, while always focusing on our ability to win battles. The first priority for Quality of Life is to bring our Marines home alive.
The implementation of our Marine Corps Quality of Life Master Plan continues with steady, measurable progress. Marines are coming home to new, renovated, or refurbished barracks, better family housing, more attractive and livable communities -places where Marines are comfortable and proud to live. Revitalizing Marine Corps quality of life programs and our housing communities shows Marines and their families in the most immediate way that the nation recognizes and appreciates the work they do.
We continue to offer a wide range of support services to Marines and their families. We have recently adopted a preventive rather than reactive focus for many of these programs. For example, suicide continues to be a complex and deeply troubling issue. During 1997, 20 Marines committed suicide. While this is the fewest annual number of USMC suicides in a decade, this tragic loss of life and the accompanying sorrow felt by family members, as well as members of the affected units make it imperative that we continue efforts to prevent suicide in the Corps.
Formal suicide awareness training is in place at all levels reaching all Marines. This training focuses on prevention aspects: warning signs, early identification, and crisis intervention. Our Family Service Centers serve as an integral link for Marines who seek personal or family counseling.
"Semper Fit", the Marine Corps Health Promotion Program, is another resource in suicide awareness and prevention. The elements of Semper Fit address many of the risk factors associated with suicide such as unmanaged stress and alcohol abuse. In all cases, if prevention fails, services are available to facilitate the recovery of Marines and/or their loved ones.
As the QoL mindset becomes more institutionalized, an ever-increasing number of programs and initiatives fall under the QoL umbrella. I assure you the Marine Corps will approach QoL funding in the same manner as we approach spending everywhere: with a fierce determination to get the most "bang for the buck." Our QoL investments have a payoff, since Marines who know that they and their families are being taken care of are more likely to be focused on the continuous challenge of combat readiness. As we focus on traditional QoL programs, it is important to remember QoL also includes operational aspects; in particular, the "tempo" at which we operate.
The Marine Corps measures and tracks its tempo in the same manner that it trains, deploys, and fights--as units, not as individuals. We measure Deployed Tempo (DEPTEMPO), which is accumulated time deployed during a given annual period. This accumulated time is the number of days deployed starting at periods of ten days or more away from home station. Our goal is 180 days or less deployed per unit per year, with a two to one turnaround ratio or at least 12 months between each 6 month deployment. The individual Marine is important to us, as we have already stated, but more important is our accomplishment of the mission at hand. With most contingencies that the Marine Corps responds to being absorbed by our forward deployed forces, tempo should remain manageable in the future. We will be able to maintain and sustain readiness in the face of this constant tempo by continuing to use our time-tested and effective rotational deployment scheme. The very modest force structure reductions recommended for the Marine Corps in the QDR will not have an impact on our DEPTEMPO.
I would like to reiterate some concerns I submitted to this Subcommittee two weeks ago regarding force-shaping tools. A modest drawdown does not require any special separation programs such as Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) and the Special Separation Bonus (SSB) or the Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA). These programs proved very useful in the post-Desert Storm drawdown, and while we have no plans to implement them in the near future, these programs may provide an excellent mechanism for force-shaping (i.e., proper grade and MOS mix). We would, therefore, benefit from the extension of these programs for future use as we shape our Corps for the 21st Century.
Also, we would like to retain the limited authority to waive the full Time In Grade (TIG) requirement for certain officer retirements. Although this waiver is granted sparsely, it does provide a degree of planning flexibility. These benefits have served the Corps well, both for the institution and for our individual Marines and their families.
Similarly, the Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) and Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) are extremely useful and have been very well received by our separating Marines. They are also recruiting tools, in that they help us "take care of our own." Our Marines can, through use of TAMP, transition more confidently and better prepared into civilian life. They, therefore, do not leave the Corps with negative feelings that can spread through the community and impact future recruiting efforts. RAP is used extensively by our young Marines and their families, greatly assisting them as they transfer between bases. Funding for these programs is provided by OSD, and is supplemented by USMC dollars. It is our desire to continue these programs indefinitely.
We would ask Congress to extend the authority for all of these programs as we continue shaping the Corps for the 21st century.
QUADRENNIAL DEFENSE REVIEW
Just ten years ago, the Corps was operating with over 197,000 active duty Marines. Today, despite an increase in commitments worldwide, we are operating with significantly fewer people. There is no question that the nation would be better off with more Marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers, but we recognize the fiscal constraints currently affecting the Department of Defense, as well as the entire federal government. And within the Corps, we recognize the compelling need to modernize our equipment to enable our Marines to fight and win on future battlefields AND come home alive. With these thoughts in mind, I believe 172,200--as recommended by the QDR--is our appropriate end strength. We can achieve this end strength in Fiscal Year 1999 and maintain it into the future.
Force Structure Review
Though modest in magnitude, we planned the QDR cuts with great care. We formed a Force Structure Review Group (FSRG) to identify most prudent areas for reduction. We then went beyond the scope of the QDR to scrutinize every unit for possible streamlining and reinvestment into the operating forces. Within our operating forces, we identified billets to be eliminated in order to shift resources to the most critical units. The goal was to use the QDR as a catalyst to actually improve our warfighting capability by raising our "tooth-to-tail" ratio; that is, by shifting as much structure as possible from our support functions to our warfighting units. I am pleased to report success in this endeavor--we can accomplish the QDR cuts while sharpening our combat edge.
Concurrent with our structure improvements, we are seeking innovative ways to decrease the amount of time Marines spend in training. This, too, will allow us to increase manning in our operating forces. To achieve these efficiencies, we will apply advanced technologies which enable "distance learning" and promote improved individual and unit readiness throughout the Corps.
Mr. Chairman, the value of the Marine Corps to this nation lies in making Marines and winning battles. Success in these two areas arises from the combined effect of every initiative, policy, and funding decision we make. Our efforts always focus on our warfighting ability. I am confident our present approach to making Marines will enable us to win the battles, whenever and wherever they may be.