The painful defense cuts under sequestration may last for a decade, but it’s a good bet that that spending cuts won’t threaten top Army programs such as the Network and the Ground Combat Vehicle.
Senior Army officials, and their counterparts in other services, have talked a great deal over the past few months about the negative impacts of sequestration, a set of mandatory defense spending cuts slated to go into effect March 1.
The Army’s $18-billion share of this year’s $46 billion of across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon is projected devour money for home-station training for about 80 percent of combat units and force the senior leadership to cut another 100,000 personnel from the ranks.
Rapid acquisition efforts that have kept combat troops well equipped over the past decade of war are also likely to dry up, Gen. Robert Cone, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, said recently at the Association of the U.S. Army’s winter meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“We will not have the funds available to come up with those kinds of quick solutions that have a half life of about two years and then are thrown away,” Cone said.
But the future of high-profile Army programs such as the Network, GCV and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle has been discussed very little.
The reason is simple. Even if sequestration lasts the projected 10 years, the drastic cuts to every spending area will only occur in fiscal 2013, said Lt. Gen. James Barclay, Army G8, at AUSA winter.
The Army already decided in January to extend the Technology Development phase of the GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle program. Delays are a reality for many of the Pentagon’s major acquisition programs as a strategy to survive the planned budget cuts.
Leaders will have more control over which programs will suffer at the beginning of the next fiscal year, Barclay said.
“This year it is a straight nine-percent cut” across the service, Barclay said. “For 2014 and beyond, the Army has the ability to take that nine percent and decide where the cuts go.”