By Emelie Rutherford

The Marine Corps’ forthcoming ground-vehicle strategy spells out how the service wants to use platforms including the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), but is not expected to weigh in on whether the vehicle program should be canceled.

The Marine Corps is proceeding with current plans to test redesigned prototypes of General Dynamics‘ [GD] EFV, amid speculation Pentagon brass may try to cancel the program in the fiscal year 2012 budget due to Congress early next year. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has questioned if the Marine Corps’s current mission still warrants the need for such a forcible-entry vehicle that can quickly carry troops from ships to shore.

The Marine Corps Ground Vehicle Strategy, as prepared by the service, in itself is not expected to directly call for changing current plans to buy 573 EFVs.

The Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s (MCCDC) Capabilities Development Directorate is developing the strategy, which is due to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in September. The due date was delayed and now is expected to fall after the retirement of Commandant Gen. James Conway, an outspoken EFV supporter.

The Ground Vehicle Strategy will lay out plans for how to “field and sustain vehicles that support the Corps’ expected combat environment,” according to Lt. Col. Roger Galbraith, director of public affairs at MCCDC.

The strategy comments on light, medium, and heavy vehicles, including the EFV.

“We categorize the current AAV and M1 tank as heavy vehicles, with the EFV being a future vehicle in that category,” he said.

The strategy considers the current Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) and future Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) in the medium vehicle category. For light vehicles, the document weighs Humvees and the developmental Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Galbraith said.

The role of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) in the Marine Corps’s future will be limited, service officials have said.

“The environment of Iraq and Afghanistan, one in which Marines are operating on known, established routes for months at a time has demanded the development of heavily protected vehicles,” Galbraith said. “These vehicles, while wonderful for protecting Marines, are of limited use for an expeditionary force, for which all our equipment must fit on amphibious shipping.”

The development of vehicles for the Marine Corps must complement its expeditionary nature, he said. Thus, service officials will seek to develop a spectrum of vehicles for heavy, medium and light combat applications.

“That being said, we have thousands of MRAPs, and although they were not designed to fit on amphibious ships, are still valuable for certain applications,” Galbraith said. “The Marine Corps will seek to use the investment in those vehicles by considering placing them in pre-positioned stocks, or readily deployable mission packages.”