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Aviation as the key to Navy-Marine Integration

The Corps has drifted away from the Navy over the last two decades, and it didn?t need the Navy in Iraq or Afghanistan. Shortages of amphibious shipping combined with a need to justify force structure gave birth to shore-based SPMAGTFs. This trend has led to less-than-seamless integration between the Marine Corps and Navy. In the future fight, this gap leaves amphibious forces more vulnerable and less deadly than they should be. 

The new Commandant of the Marine Corps, General David Berger, said in his planning guidance, ??there is a need to reestablish a more integrated approach to operations in the maritime domain.? By virtue of their range and speed, aviation assets are inherently able to bridge gaps. Amphibious forces usually take this as meaning between the sea and the land, but it also bridges gaps between forces at sea.

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Here’s why the Marine Corps is losing experienced pilots ? and what it can do to fix it

“Lat[eral] moves for [all aviators] to become a MARSOC [Special Operations Officer] are not being approved” at this time, the email from the Monitor said, adding that “[Inter-Service Transfers] for [any aviator] to any branch, to include the USCG, are not being approved [at this time].”

The email was just the latest restriction on aviators, and the next round of Headquarters Marine Corps’ (HQMC) ineffective strategy for dealing with a critical shortage of company grade aviators in the Marine Corps. The Air Force has garnered most of the attention regarding pilot shortages over the past few years, but it’s hardly unique to their service, as the entire military is struggling to keep its aviators in the midst of an airline hiring frenzy and a strong economy. For years, the pilot shortage was attributed to Obama-era sequestration, aging platforms, and a lack of sufficient flight time.

But there is a more significant contributor to this shortage: mismanagement of pilots due to unwritten rules of the aviation promotion system.

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