Legacy weapon systems are on the chopping block as newly minted US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper moves out with his promise to task the services with examining their weapons’ portfolios to decide which ones need to be culled to pay for modernisation programmes.
Esper, the former US Army secretary, is keeping his word to lawmakers to bring the army’s ‘night court’ process to the other services – a comprehensive programme review where service leaders decide which efforts are be cut or curtailed, so that freed up dollars are funneled to new ones.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing in July. He has now started a department-wide review of all weapons programmes. (DoD)
“At my confirmation hearing, I committed to actively seek opportunities to reallocate resources and reinvest back into our top priorities,” Esper tweeted on 10 August. “Today, I'm kicking off the Defence Wide Review to ensure every dollar spent furthers the National Defense Strategy.”
Esper’s office did not respond to
request for additional information, but Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters on 20 August that service leaders have begun meeting to discuss preparations for a large-scale military conflict with China and Russia, and what weapons and technology will be needed to succeed.
As for how this will be reflected in forthcoming budgets, the services are set to imminently deliver their proposed fiscal year 2021 (FY 2021) budget requests to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), which means a weapons portfolio review for this request will involve OSD, McCarthy explained.
For the FY 2022 budget request, the services may be tasked with implementing their own version of the army’s ‘night court’.