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$157.8 Billion Needed to Repair, Rebuild Army

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U.S. Army
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A new American Enterprise Institute report calls for a $672.1 billion increase in defense funding over the next five fiscal years to repair and rebuild the armed forces, with $157.8 billion earmarked for Army programs.

The Army needs the money to expand Total Force troop strength, create new armored cavalry regiments in Europe and increase lethality and survivability, according to the report by defense analyst Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at AEI’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies.

Her report recommends Regular Army strength of 494,000 in 2018, climbing to 519,000 by 2022. The Trump administration’s 2018 budget asks for 476,000, although Congress is considering increases in the range of 4,000 to 10,000 more. The Trump budget asks for 343,000 Army National Guard and 199,000 Army Reserve soldiers in 2018. Eaglen’s report says the numbers would be 346,000 for the Army Guard and 206,00 for the Army Reserve in 2018 and 360,000 for the Army Guard and 217,000 for the Army Reserve by 2022.

“This additional manpower will restore manning levels across tactical units to acceptable standards and build new force structure for U.S. Army Europe, which has the most pressing need for additional service resources,” she writes in the report, “Repair and Rebuild: Balancing New Military Spending for a Three-Theater Strategy.”

Added troop strength accounts for $60.6 billion of the additional funding. Another $59.3 billion would go to restore readiness, $21.2 billion to accelerate ground combat modernization, $8.7 billion to upgrade air and missile defense, and $8 billion to accelerate modernization of rotary-wing aircraft.

“The U.S. Army of the 21st century must possess the capacity and capability to conduct both high-intensity, combined-arms campaigns and large-scale, long-term stability operations. To ensure success on conventional battlefields, the Army should restore discarded Cold War-era competencies and modernize its forces with new and upgraded equipment,” she writes. “Preparing for future stability operations requires holding onto the lessons learned in recent wars and a thorough analysis of evolving trends in unconventional conflicts.”

It seems unlikely Congress will approve extra funds for fiscal 2018. The budget blueprint approved by the House and Senate has a $577 billion base defense budget for 2018 plus $76.5 billion in overseas contingency operating funds. Eaglen’s plan calls for a $679 billion base defense budget in 2018.