The Army is no longer running its “night court” top-down reviews for identifying cuts to legacy and enduring programs, with the service’s secretary adding the process had already identified all the potential areas for savings that could be shifted to funding modernization efforts.

“I think because of the work that was done a few years ago on night court, we have a lot of visibility into our different accounts, if you will, and where the money is. So we continue to scrutinize, through our program budget build, all of our programs very aggressively, but we didn’t have…like a separate special night court process,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters on Thursday during a Defense Writers Group discussion.

The Honorable Christine Wormuth, United States Secretary of the Army, visits Fort Bragg, N.C., July 19, 2021. During her visit, the 82nd Airborne Division showcased various new technology the U.S. Army will utilize in the future, including the Infantry Squad Vehicle, the Variable Height Antenna, and the Integrated Visual Augmentation System. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Jacob Ward).

Wormuth said to expect “a lot of continuity” on modernization efforts in the upcoming budget request, while noting officials have focused on how to best balance new capability development with readiness priorities.

“[Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff] and I are working really hard to sort of strike a balance between investing in the new systems that we’re developing…and continuing to invest in some of the enduring systems that we really need, like Abrams for example,” Wormuth said. “So I think we’re going to put forward a balanced program that’s going to allow us to transform…which is critical, but also maintain our readiness and take care of soldiers and families.”

Army officials ahead of recent budget releases have said the service must prepare for increasingly tougher divestiture and procurement reduction decisions with less “low hanging fruit” available to shift funds from legacy and enduring platforms toward modernization identified through the “night court” review process.

“There isn’t any more low-hanging fruit. What that means is we’re having to balance. Would we like to invest more in our new systems? Sure. But it’s critical that we take care of our soldiers and families and that’s not cheap to do,” Wormuth said. “Night court was about finding fruit on the tree. The low hanging fruit is gone, so night served its purpose.”

Ryan McCarthy, the Army’s secretary from September 2019 to January 2021, spearheaded the “night court” effort and told reporters in October 2020 that extensive cuts to legacy systems in FY ‘23 and FY ‘24 may be required as the service looks to secure full funding to begin production for some of its next-generation platforms (Defense Daily, Oct. 15 2020). 

“What you’re going to see in [FY] ‘23 and ‘24, the Army is faced to deal with legacy assets. We’re going to have to cut more of our legacy systems as you start to see these 31 plus three signature systems landing in the formation. And they’re already hitting. [FY] ‘22 and ‘23 are going to be big years for us with large, major defense acquisition programs starting to come off the production line,” McCarthy said at the time.