Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Friday the Army will have to continue pushing ahead with major divestiture decisions in the coming years to fully fund modernization efforts, calling the $13.5 billion officials included in the latest budget request to shift away from low priorities “tepid” compared to last year’s $33 billion. 

“This year was much more tepid than last year. We moved over $30 billion across the [next five fiscal years] last year. It was about north of $12 [billion] this time. Most of the programs were not as big or complex as last year,” McCarthy said. “What I would focus everyone’s attention on is in the FY ‘22/23 timeframe. The Army’s in the midst of a very robust test cycle. What’s different than where we were 10 years ago, of even 20 years ago, we have prototypes that are out there flying, they’re exploding, they’re driving. This is happening.”

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

The Army released its FY ‘21 budget request on Monday which detailed plans to cancel 41 programs and reduce or delay another 39 to find $13.5 billion in savings over the next five years. (Defense Daily, Feb. 11). 

“We’re starting to shift the dollars toward the new capabilities that we’re investing in against the force,” McCarthy said. “We’re still maintaining upgrades with the current fleet, but over time you’re starting to see us make progression toward the new capabilities. As you get further into this FYDP you’ll see about 55 to 60 percent of the modernization accounts be invested against these new capabilities we’re bringing into our formations.”

McCarthy reaffirmed previous comments that “night court” reforms will only become increasingly tougher and specifically pointed to the FY ‘22 budget as an inflection point for major divestiture decisions.

“That’s where the divestiture of legacy platforms will have to pick up and get into a much higher gear,” McCarthy said. 

The latest round of the Army’s “night court” review process including cutting the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System and Mobile Intermediate Range Missile, stretching the buy of Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles, reducing the number of Bradley fighting vehicle upgrades and sticking with a plan to truncate the buy of CH-47 Chinook Block II helicopters (Defense Daily, Feb. 13). 

The Army has also included plans to further stretch its procurement of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, which is built by Oshkosh Defense [OSK], and is exploring potentially opening the program to competition to drive down production costs of the vehicle when the it is up for a follow-on deal.

“Things are getting tough. We’ve been putting this type of rigor against every decision. And obviously when you’re buying about $850 million worth of JLTVs we’re going to take a hard look at that,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy noted that the acquisition objective of 49,099 vehicles for JLTV hasn’t changed while noting the Army must better understand its “enormous vehicle fleet size, which includes 49,000 Humvees and around 1,000 infantry fighting vehicles.

“That’s a breathtaking amount of vehicles, even for an organization as big as us. So what we’ve asked for is a study for just how many do we need and what is the appropriate mix. That’s been underway,” McCarthy said. “We’re trying to get toward the endstate there because it’s about making the best, sound investments. You have to buy only what you need.”