Year-Long Continuing Resolution Will Slow Down Army Procurement
If Congress implements a year-long continuing resolution for fiscal year 2016, the Army will have to forgo some major purchases including some Chinook and Apache helicopters, a senior service leader said Oct. 13.
Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, said, "Our major fear is that for some major critical programs, we are really going to buy a lot less quantities."
A budget impasse in Congress has resulted in a continuing resolution until Dec. 11. There has been talk that this may be extended through the entire fiscal year.
Apache helicopters orders would be cut in half, she said. There would be seven fewer CH-47 Chinooks purchased as well. In addition, the Army will not be able to start new programs. There are also many small projects scheduled for 2016 that the Army won't be able to initiate, she added.
"Over 400 programs are impacted under a year-long CR," she said. That adds up to $6.1 billion. As for programs under development, the time lines will be stretched out, she added.
The armored multi-purpose vehicle, which is in the engineering, manufacturing and development phase under a contract with BAE Systems, is an example or timelines being stretched out. "2015 was the year for design. The second year we were supposed to ramp up, but we won't be able to under a CR."
The Army can request waivers from Congress on some of these programs, and receive the programmed funding for 2016. "Certainly we can make a request. Whether they would oblige is unknown," she said without stating which programs the Army might seek waivers for.
Gen. Dennis L. Via , commanding general of Army Material Command, said the budget uncertainty will result in troops being poorly prepared for whatever unforeseen crisis pops up. "That unpredictability will not allow us to achieve the readiness we need for our force."
"Readiness is expensive and it takes time to build," he said. “The Army will send soldiers wherever and whenever they are needed. However, they may not be adequately trained and equipped for what they have to face.”
Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Strykers all need to be reset and put in good enough condition to be able to train forces, but that work will be put off as well, Via said.
"We won't know when we reach the cliff until we get there," he said. Sending forces into combat when they are not prepared and poorly equipped will ultimately cost lives, he said.
One cause for optimism among U.S. arms manufacturers is a boost in Army foreign military sales, Shyu said.
The Army achieved $20 billion in such sales in fiscal year 2015 and anticipates another $15 billion this year, she said.
"A lot of people complain about our systems and yet there are plenty of folks who like to buy" them, she said. Helicopters and Patriot missile defense systems accounted for a large part of the sales, she said. She attributed a lower estimate this year on reduced military budgets overseas, while also pointing out that this was just an estimate. The $15 billion in FMS sales in 2014 and $ 20 billion in 2015 were initially predicted to be lower.