AUSA NEWS: Funding Woes Could Delay New Army Tech, Wormuth Says

By Mikayla Easley

Defense Dept. photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Some of the Army’s modernization programs might experience scheduling delays the longer it takes for lawmakers to pass the fiscal year 2023 budget, the service’s top civilian said Oct. 10.

The Army has a defining year ahead of itself, with plans to field 24 of 35 new technology programs as part of its strategy to remodel the force for future conflict with peer and near-peer adversaries. However, some of those 35 capabilities might face setbacks if federal agencies are forced to carry on under continuing resolutions, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said.

“Another CR is going to have negative impacts for us, and there are a number of programs, if I recall, [that] might have some schedule slippages — particularly if we got into a very long continuing resolution,” Wormuth told reporters during the annual Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C.

Wormuth could not name which programs or how many could face delays.

The service has requested $177.5 billion in its 2023 budget request — about $2.8 billion more than was enacted in 2022. The proposal focuses on 35 technology programs the Army deems essential to its transformational efforts. The capabilities fall within the service’s six modernization priorities: long-range fires, ground combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the network, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality.

However, lawmakers were once again unable to enact a full-year defense appropriations bill before the start of the fiscal year, forcing federal agencies to operate under a continuing resolution instead. The device freezes funding for programs to that of 2022 levels until Dec. 16. Defense analysts predict it could be early 2023 before Congress passes a budget.

Wormuth said that because the Defense Department has been operating under continuing resolutions for a significant amount of time, “we’ve gotten pretty efficient at kind of managing through them.”

Despite the looming shadow of insufficient funding, Wormuth insisted that “2023 will be a big year for Army modernization — we will deliver prototypes or begin fielding 24 new systems.” The new technologies will be fielded to warfighters either as prototypes or fully-developed capabilities.

“We have prototypes on factory floors, we are testing and experimenting with new technology — not by ourselves, but fully with our sister services and industry partners during events like Project Convergence,” Wormuth said during her keynote address at the conference. She added that the service has already signed contracts for low-rate production for some of its upcoming capabilities.

The service’s modernization efforts will assist the Army as it shifts focus away from counterterrorism threats in the Middle East to near-peer adversaries in the Indo-Pacific, like China, as well as continued aggression by Russia in Europe, Wormuth said.

At the same time it’s shoring up technologies to prepare for future battlefields, the Army plans to strengthen its deterrence in the Indo-Pacific by building out its logistics and sustainment capabilities, she said. Wormuth has tasked Gen. Edward Daly, commanding general of Army Materiel Command, to lead this effort, she added.

“I think we really have to focus on contested logistics in the Indo-Pacific, which is the most demanding theater from a logistics perspective because of the distances involved,” Wormuth told reporters. She cited autonomous systems, energy-efficient combat systems and predictive data analyses as some of the opportunities Army Materiel Command can explore.

The Army also hopes to leverage innovations from the commercial sector for logistics and sustainment technologies, Wormuth said.

“I think we’ve done a very good job of partnering with industry around development of new combat capabilities,” she said. “But I think we need to make sure we’re fully exploring what we can do in terms of logistics with the commercial sector.”


Topics: Army News

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