26 February 2019

Speaking this morning before a packed breakfast crowd at the headquarters of the Association of the U.S. Army in Arlington, Virginia, Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy discussed the Army’s pending FY20 budget request in the context of the Service’s plans to shift nearly $31 billion in spending to modernize selected Army equipment and to increase force readiness.

“We’ve been very consistent about where we were trying to take the Army” said the Under Secretary. “With that comes very difficult choices.” While making clear that he would not get ahead of the President on the budget request specifics that will be unveiled next month (12 February for the broad stokes; 18 March for the finer details), Mr. McCarthy related that:

(1) The Army’s current planning contains more than $22 billion in program cuts or cancellations and $8 billion in “cost avoidance” from [~186 individual] low or non-priority programs.

(2) With these savings, the Army intends to provide “vast increases” to those programs central to the Service’s “Big Six” modernization priorities: long-range precision fires; Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV); Future Vertical Lift; the network, air and missile defense; and Soldier lethality.

(3) Picking the winners and losers in this massive and comprehensive budget review was a painstaking “program-by-program scrub” executed by the Army’s senior most leadership – Secretary Mark Esper, Army Chief of Staff Mark Miley, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, and McCarthy himself.

(4) In the future — and actually ongoing right now with regard to the Service’s FY21 budget and POM build — this prioritization process is being carried out at military and civilian level senior levels of the Army. McCarthy notes that, moving forward: “It’s going to be a much more sophisticated approach than the last time, when it was literally all of us sitting there, just going through every program. It’s a way to institutionalize this behavior.”

(5) It is understood that the Army’s programmatic decisions, soon to be unveiled, have impacts in communities around the country and that the Congress has the final say on what gets funded. McCarthy says that he and his colleagues will work hard to convince Congress of the rationale for the cuts and the payoff. “If a company in your state or district is impacted, there is also immense opportunity that will present itself as we proceed.”

Image Credit: Association of the US Army (AUSA)