Army Leaders Bracing for Budget Reductions

By Jon Harper

Bell photo

The Army is prepared to sacrifice near-term readiness for modernization if bleak budget forecasts come to pass, according to one senior official.

The service has ambitious plans to develop a variety of new systems. Its top six modernization priorities include: long-range fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, the network, air-and-missile defense, and soldier lethality.

“We’ve been well resourced” in recent years, said Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, deputy chief of staff, Army G-8. The service received a topline of $180 billion for 2020.

But based on feedback from economists and think tank experts, officials are bracing for the possibility that budgets will be tighter in coming years.

“We asked them their thoughts on the future DoD topline, given the impacts COVID was having on our economy and the associated outlays … from Congress,” Pasquarette said during an online event hosted by the Association of the United States Army.

There were two schools of thought, he said. One was that the economic fallout would only lead to “perhaps a minor topline hit.”

“Under that scenario, the Army leadership would not have to make any real tough choices. We could essentially head down the same path we’ve been on: slow growth, continuing to fully modernize while also remaining highly ready,” he said.

The majority opinion was bleaker: the Pentagon should be preparing for significant budget cuts.

Faced with a much lower topline, the Army would be forced to make tradeoffs between modernization, readiness and end strength, he noted.

During past budget crunches, the service prioritized near-term readiness and took a “modernization holiday,” he said. “We do have a bad track record.”

However, “it’s going to be different this time around if and when we receive a significant topline reduction,” he said. “We will look at continuing to fully resource … efforts that are deemed especially critical.”

Pasquarette said several trends give him confidence that the latest plans to revamp the force will stay on track. The Army has established a Futures Command led by a four-star general dedicated to developing the highest priority capabilities. The service has also shown an ability to shift funding within its own topline through program reviews known as the “night court” process, through which it has freed up more than $39 billion to reinvest in its top modernization efforts. Additionally, the threat posed by advanced adversaries such as China will continue to be a strong motivator for acquiring new technology, he noted.

Topics: Army News, Budget

Comments (1)

Re: Army Leaders Bracing for Budget Reductions

Most of the six U.S. Army Modernization programs are progressing nicely with the exception of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles. In truth, with current upgrades to the Legacy Fleet, I think the NGCV can be delayed until new breakthroughs in armor technology, Active Protection, and recoil mitigation are discovered.

As such, I would suggest to the U.S. Army to buy new triple-combination armament (like RiWP) and Remote Weapons System turrets (like CROWS-Javelin) for the Strykers, JLTVs, AMPVs, Bradleys (30mm), and Abrams (130mm main gun) and just keep tinkering with the NGCV designs. The M5 RIPSAW and 105mm MPF can fulfill the niche for new manned and unmanned light AFVs for the time being until the NGCV is fleshed out. Mount all M777s on FMTVs, or buy wheeled towed howitzers. No soldier should have to tow and lug M777s around anymore, even if helicopter slingloaded.

The money saved from postponing the fielding of the NGCV could be used to up-arm the existing AFVs and JLTVs and buy new Arctic Snowcat vehicles until the Biden Administration develops a new strategy and decides where best to deploy forces.

Trisaw at 11:36 AM
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