Half of all U.S. Marine Corps units below required readiness levels

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U.S. Marine Corps drill instructors with the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, stand at parade rest during the 69th anniversary of women in the Marine Corps aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Feb. 13, 2012.

U.S. Marine Corps drill instructors with the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, stand at parade rest during the 69th anniversary of women in the Marine Corps aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Feb. 13, 2012.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Half of all U.S. Marine Corps units at their home bases are below the levels of required readiness, according to the new commandant of the Marine Corps.

Speaking Saturday at a bipartisan national security conference at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Gen. Joseph Dunford said, “Fifty percent of our units that are at home station today, they are at a degraded state of readiness.”

Dunford said that includes “equipment shortfalls, or personnel shortfalls, and the reason is because of the high operational tempo we have today.”

The problem for the Marine Corps is that the units back home — not already out on the front line — are the most critical to have ready in a crisis, said the general, who took command last month.

“Units at home station are exactly the units that will respond to the unexpected. They will be the units to respond to a major contingency and those units are not at the level of readiness that we want them to be today.”

Dunford said the major problem is the mandatory budget cuts as part of the so-called sequestration process.

He noted that about two years ago the Marine Corps had been making progress in improving readiness from its previous rate of 60% of units not being ready to deploy.

But he said “increased requirements” for Marines in high-threat areas such as the Middle East have caused the problem to grow worse again.

“The big issue is the ability to respond to the unexpected contingency or frankly some of the contingencies that we plan for. And the bench that responds to those contingencies is the bench right now that is suffering the greatest degraded readiness, ” Dunford said.

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