Army Halts Plans to Extend Training for Cavalry Scouts, Combat Engineers

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Two combat engineers work into dusk dismantling the Light-weight Counter Mortar Radar system at Contingency Operating Location K1, Kirkuk province, Iraq, July 24, 2011. (U.S. Army/Sgt. David Strayer)
Two combat engineers work into dusk dismantling the Light-weight Counter Mortar Radar system at Contingency Operating Location K1, Kirkuk province, Iraq, July 24, 2011. (U.S. Army/Sgt. David Strayer)

The U.S. Army has frozen plans to extend initial entry training for cavalry scout, combat engineers and military police soldiers in an effort to save money in its fiscal 2021 budget request.

The Army began extending one-station unit training (OSUT) for infantry recruits from 14 to 22 weeks in 2018, a move that prompted Army leaders to draft plans to broaden the program to include armor OSUT, as well as OSUT for cavalry scouts, engineers and MPs.

But Army budget officials said today that only infantry and armor OSUTs will be funded as part of the Army's fiscal 2021 budget request.

"The OSUT program going from 14 to 22 weeks for infantry and for armor will hopefully ... give the Army a more resilient soldier that can go to their first unit and is prepared to be that disciplined soldier that can fight today," Col. Britt Walker, director of Resource Analysis and Integration for the Army, told defense reporters at the Pentagon today.

"MPs and engineers, at this time, the plans are on hold for extending those."

Walker added that extended OSUT for cavalry scout has also been placed on hold.

Then Secretary of the Army Mark Esper said January 2019 that if the pilot program for armor and cavalry scout proved successful, the service would consider broadening the extended OSUT program.

Related: More Army Combat Arms Specialties Will Soon See Extended Training

On Monday, however, the Army unveiled a $178 billion budget request for fiscal 2021 that eliminated 41 programs and reduced or delayed 39 more across the next five years. The cuts resulted in a savings of $2.4 billion in fiscal 2021 and $9 billion through 2025.

Walker said he wasn't sure if the decision to freeze OSUT extensions for MPs, engineers and cavalry scouts was "part of the cuts, but I think it was decided that we could potentially assume risk ... by not extending OSUT programs."

The Army is requesting a total of $43.1 billion in operations and maintenance, of which $21 million will go to fund armor OSUT extension in fiscal 2021, said Walker, who didn't say how much money was needed to continue the infantry OSUT effort.

"Really, the Army wants to focus on readiness with the combat formations first, and we want to maintain that tactical readiness," he said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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