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US Army: Pending budget reduction leads to reduced optempo, legacy weapons cuts and slowing modernisation programmes

US Army leadership have appealed a Pentagon plan to slice billions of dollars from its budget next year to pay for large US Navy (USN) and US Air Force acquisition programmes.

If the cuts stand, the army is warning that it will not be able to meet the envisioned operational tempo (optempo) demands, its troop readiness levels will dip, legacy programmes will be on the chopping block, and it may be forced to slow down its modernisation initiatives, Janes has learnt.

“The army will protect its modernisation programmes ‘at all costs’ but might slow some down,” a source inside the army said on 21 April.

Army concerns stem from ongoing budget deliberations inside the Pentagon as it crafts its fiscal year 2022 (FY 2022) budget request, the first under the Biden administration. So far, the administration has announced that the Department of Defense will ask Congress for USD715 billion in discretionary funds. This is a 1.6% increase over the FY 2021 enacted funding level of USD704 billion, but with roughly a 1.7% 12-month inflation rate, the overall request remains relatively flat.

However, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) wants to divvy up the service budgets differently this year and told the army that it will take a several billion dollar hit over its approved FY 2021 budget of approximately USD176.6 billion. These funds would then be shifted to the USN and air force to pay for programmes like the Columbia-class submarine and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.

Soldiers keep watch during a joint combat live-fire event using the Gepard air defence system at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, in February 2021. The US Army is trying to fend off potential cuts to its budget next year. (US Army )

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