Army Slashes Old Programs to Fund New Tech in 2020 Budget Request

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command conducted the first flight of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) concept in November 2011. (U.S. Army Photo)
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command conducted the first flight of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) concept in November 2011. (U.S. Army Photo)

The U.S. Army on Tuesday released its $182 billion spending request for fiscal 2020, which prioritizes readiness but also earmarks funding for modernization by targeting 186 programs for termination or reduced funding over the next five years.

The $182.3 billion topline request is a 2.5 percent increase over last year's fiscal 2019 enacted budget of $180 billion, according to Army budget documents.

It includes a $151 billion base budget and $31 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. There is also an additional $9.2 billion for emergency funding for the Defense Department, the documents show.

To get around 2011 budget caps under sequestration, the OCO funding account, which is not subject to the caps, received a large increase across the Defense Department, much of which is programmed for base budget needs, rather than warfighting. The Army added $31.4 billion to its OCO request for base purposes, according to the documents.

The budget request builds on the steps taken in the Army's fiscal 2018 and 2019 budgets to meet its readiness goal by 2022 and modernize its major combat platforms by 2028, Undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy told defense reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

Related content:

"In this budget, you will see that readiness is our number-one priority and will remain that way until at least fiscal year 2022," McCarthy said.

The Army is requesting $42 billion for operations and maintenance for the active force, compared to the $40.8 billion it got in the fiscal 2019 enacted budget.

This would increase one station unit training from 14 to 22 weeks for infantry recruits and also fund a pilot to extend OSUT for armor and cavalry scout soldiers. It also funds 25 decisive combat training center rotations for the active force brigade combat teams. The budget request funds more home-station unit training and increases flying hours for pilots from 10.8 hours to 11.6, budget documents show.

The Army is hoping to increase brigade combat team readiness by bringing two-thirds of its BCTs up to their "highest state readiness," McCarthy said.

The service is also planning modest growth in its end strength. It plans to add 2,000 soldiers to the active force, taking it to 480,000. The budget calls for adding 500 soldiers to the National Guard for an end strength of 336,000 and 250 to the reserve, for a total of 189,500.

"We are maxing out our CTC rotations, home-station training, trying to fill brigade combat teams to 105 percent manning," McCarthy said.

The budget also continues to align 80 percent of science and technology funding toward the Army's six modernization priorities, which include long-range precision fires, the next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, a mobile network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality.

Within those priorities, "there are 30 signature systems that will require substantial funding in the outyears, so we can pull them through that weapons modernization knothole," McCarthy said.

To make this happen, leaders last spring scoured every Army program to find more than $31 billion from existing programs to ensure that the service's modernization priorities remain on track, he said.

"We found north of $30 billion across the entire budget -- the five-year Futures Years Defense Plan -- laying in those cuts over time to finance our ambition," McCarthy said, explaining the process that resulted in the termination of 93 programs and funding reductions to 93 other programs.

In this budget, the Army sees $2.5 billion in savings from those 186 divestments, but much of the savings won't come until the end of the 2020-2024 Future Years Defense Plan, or FYDP.

"The choices of how these programs will be divested will happen across the FYDP, toward the end ... and you are synchronizing them with the investment portfolios of the next-generation combat vehicle or future vertical lift," McCarthy said. "The funding increases year over year as the maturity of these systems come online."

The service's research, development, test and evaluation account requests $12.2 billion, compared to last year's $11.1 billion enacted budget.

The largest increase went to demonstration and validation efforts with a $2.9 billion request, up from last year's $1.2 billion enacted budget. The increase will go toward programs such as the land-based hypersonic missile, manned ground vehicle, future attack reconnaissance aircraft, lower-tier air and missile defense capability, and advanced development of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, the documents show.

Army procurement is down in this year's request -- $21.8 billion compared to fiscal 2019's enacted budget of $22.1 billion. The largest cut was in aircraft, with a request of $3.7 billion compared to last year's budget of $4.3 billion, according to the documents.

The service plans to buy 73 UH-60M Black Hawks, an increase from last year's buy of 58. The remanufacture effort for AH-64 Apache gunships remains flat at 48 platforms, but the Army won't by any new Apache Block IIIB, compared to last year's buy of 453 aircraft.

It is also buying fewer drones. The budget request funds 54 MQ-1 Gray Eagles compared to last year's buy of 163. The request also buys 24 RQ-11 Ravens versus the 46 the Army budgeted last year.

The service is requesting $4.7 billion for weapons and tracked vehicles, a slight increase over last year's $4.5 billion allotment. This increases modernization of Stryker brigade combat teams by adding mobility and lethality upgrades to 152 vehicles, versus last year's 82-vehicle plan. The budget request also funds the first four mobile short-range air-defense, or MSHORAD, battalions, budget document show.

Other procurement efforts are down. The Army plans to buy 2,530 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles compared to last year's buy of 3,393. The service also plans to buy 131 new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles compared to last year's buy of 197, according to the documents.

"We have many, many things underway to make sure our Army is ready, lethal and prepared to deploy, fight and win in future wars," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in the budget documents. "And our guarantee, my guarantee, is that we are ready today and will be ready tomorrow."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

Story Continues