WASHINGTON — The Army has found $25 billion to use for modernization by identifying — and beginning to eliminate — programs that do not fit in to any of the six readiness priorities, Army officials said.
Speaking at the annual exposition of the Association of the U.S. Army Monday in Washington, officials said top Army leadership spent almost 60 hours in the spring scrutinizing programs and balancing them against their merit in advancing modernization goals.
The Army’s six modernization priorities are advancements in long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, upgrades to air and missile defense, enhanced soldier lethality and “an impenetrable network,” according to Army materials.
Army Secretary Mark Esper told reporters the scrutiny took place in what he called a “night court” full of “deep dives” into each program. He declined to identify which programs did not make the modernization cut, other than saying some come from equipment areas.
“We went program by program, activity by activity to look at each one and assess it and ask ourselves, ‘Is this more important than a next-generation combat vehicle; is this more important than a squad automatic weapon; is this more important than long-range precision fires?,’ ” Esper said. “We had to make those trade-offs, and it resulted in, again, reductions and cancellations and consolidations, so that is our intent as we continue to go through the other [areas].”
Esper said the adjustments will be seen in the Army’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget, which must be approved by Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The Pentagon’s 2020 budget is expected to be sent to Capitol Hill in February 2019; that budget will fall under tight budget rules and most likely will not provide the Pentagon will large budgets, as Congress did for 2018 and 2019.
“There will be no single technology that guarantees future success on the battlefields,” Esper said. “Where you put your money speaks a lot about your priorities, and we have prioritized readiness and modernization.”