The Army on Monday released its $178 billion budget request for fiscal year 2021, which includes finding another $13.5 billion to realign toward high priority programs and boosting development funds across nearly all of its six modernization priorities. 

The FY ’21 request, split between a $153.1 billion base budget and $24.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding, represents a flat budget for the Army arriving at about $2 billion below the FY ’20 enacted amount of $180 billion.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, left, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville answer questions during a press conference at the 2019 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Washington Convention Center on Oct. 14, 2019.Photo by: Jennifer Milbrett for AUSA

Both the Army’s procurement and research & development funding levels arrive at nearly the same level as FY ’20, calling for $24.1 billion and $12.6 billion respectively.

Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, the Army’s budget director, provided some insight to reporters on the Army’s latest round of “night court,” which found the $13.5 billion to realign from “low priority programs” over the next five years, specifically $9 billion directly to the modernization-leading Cross Functional Teams, as well as $2.4 billion for FY ’21 alone.  

The “night court” savings were pulled from 41 program cuts, including the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System and Tactical Electrical Power development program, as well as reducing or delaying another 39 efforts, including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and ATACMS missile service life extension program. 

Chamberlain said the JLTV decision will save funds in the near-term by stretching out the vehicle’s production life and pushing the program through at least 2040. 

The Army has also reduced its Bradley upgrade program, according to Chamberlain, and the budget request details plans to stick with a plan for truncating the buys of CH-47 Chinook Block II helicopters, which previously faced congressional pushback.

Senior leadership has previously discussed weighing tougher divestiture decisions to continue moving away from lower priorities and legacy systems to fund modernization, after building on the first “night court” last year that found $33 billion to realign from 186 program cuts (Defense Daily, Jan. 15). 

The budget request also lines up with the Army’s push to begin moving a handful of its next-generation weapon system programs, such as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System and Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense System (LTAMDS), from prototyping to production by boosting modernization-aligned funds from $8.5 billion to $10.7 billion.

Research and development funds have also been increased across the modernization portfolio, including a nearly 20 percent boost for Long Range Precision fires, the Army’s top priority, up to $1.7 billion, $2 billion for Integrated Air and Missile Defense, $1.1 billion for Future Vertical Lift and $2.2 billion for tactical network modernization.

Only the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle priority saw a dip in modernization funding from $1.7 billion in FY ’20 to $1.5 billion in the FY ’21 budget request, which arrives after the Army announced it would reset its solicitation effort for the Bradley-replacing Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) (Defense Daily, Feb. 7). 

The Army also specifically called for $800 million toward the Long-Range Hypersonic Missile program, $514 million for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, $328 million for OMFV and $376 million for LTAMDS.