U.S. Army budget officials have released the top 20 programs the service wants to eliminate or reduce to fund future modernization programs. They're remaining secretive, however, about the full list of weapons and systems felled by the Army's aggressive "night court" strategy.
In the recent rollout of its $178 billion proposed fiscal 2021 budget, Army budget officials noted that leaders had taken money from 80 lower-priority programs to fund readiness and modernization programs.
Now in its second year, the tedious review process yielded $2.4 billion for fiscal 2021 and another $9 billion that will be spread across the next five years -- known as the Future Years Defense Program, or FYDP -- to fund cross-functional teams under the Army's six modernization priorities. Those priorities include long-range precision fires, the next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, tactical network, air and missile defense and soldier lethality.
"There are 41 [programs] that are eliminated and 39 that are reduced or delayed," Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, director of Army Budget, told reporters at a Feb. 11 round-table discussion at the Pentagon.
"I believe that we have made the most difficult choices that were presented to us at the time to get to the greatest reform number that we could."
On Thursday, the Army released two top 10 lists, one for eliminated programs and another for the programs that would be reduced in the budget request.
Together, the lists show about $1.1 billion of the money saved as a result of night court. The program reductions list yielded $815.8 million in savings, with $222 million alone coming out of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a program the Army plans to replace with the Next Generation Combat Vehicle.
The Army is also taking $201.6 million out of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, after leaders decided to extend the production life of the program until 2041. Another $126 million will come out of the program to modify the Armored Engineer Vehicle of the Joint Assault Bridge.
Here is the top 10 list of program reductions:
- Bradley Fighting Vehicle, $222.2 million
- Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, $201.6 million
- Armored engineer vehicle Mods (Joint Assault Bridge), $126.2 million
- Close Terrain Shaping Obstacle, $92.8 million
- Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder, $36.6 million
- Army Tactical Missile Systems Service Life Extension Program, $35.6 million
- Distributed Common Ground System-Army, $30.6 million
- PROPHET ground signals intelligence system, $25.5 million
- Mortars, $22.7 million
- Total Army Munitions Requirements, $21.94 million
The top 10 eliminated programs yielded about $314.8 million in savings. At the top of the list, the cancellation of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System -- a laser-guided 70mm rocket system -- freed up about $122 million for modernization. Another $90 million will come out of the death of the Mobile Intermediate Range Missile program.
The Army also canceled the Service Life Extension Program for the Guided Multi-Rocket Launch System, saving $42.5 million.
Here is the full top 10 list of program eliminations:
- Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, $122 million
- Mobile Intermediate Range Missile, $90 million
- Guided Multi-Rocket Launch System Service Life Extension Program, $42.5 million
- Explosive Hazard Roller, Vehicle Optics Sensor System, $21.6 million
- High Mobility Engineer Excavator, $16.4 million
- Enhanced Heavy Equipment Transporter, $7.8 million
- Department of Defense Manager Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare program, $4.3 million
- Route Clearance Interrogation System, $3.5 million
- Light Engineer Utility Trailer, $3.3 million
- Tactical Electric Power [research, development, test and evaluation], $3.2 million.
Defense reporters asked several times to see the full list of programs eliminated or reduced, but Army officials said there were no plans to make that list available.
"We are just focusing on the top 10," Chamberlain said.
There was little explanation as to why the complete program list was not released.
"Congress has access to the list, so it's certainly not done without transparency," Chamberlain told reporters.
Army leaders did not release any program lists after the initial round of night court eliminated 93 programs and reduced funding to another 93, finding more than $30 billion for modernization.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.