2 March 2016 Legislative News Update

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

weekly electronic newsletter, and is published 
every Thursday when Congress is in session.








 Readiness is the word of the week. 

First, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said that readiness is the Army’s top priority because “readiness wins wars.”  Readiness also deters wars by making potential adversaries think twice before attacking, he said.

“Our Army has never been the largest in a war and, at times, we have not been the best equipped,” Milley told the Senate Appropriations Committee in a recent hearing.  “But since World War II, we have recognized that ready soldiers properly manned, trained, equipped and led, can beat larger or more determined forces whether confronting the barbaric arts of ISIS or the desperation of North Korea.  Our Army must be prepared to execute and to win.”

Second, in response to a request from the defense oversight committees, the Army released its so-called “wish list’” of unfunded priorities.  The $7.5 billion request includes $4.6 million as “readiness” funds. 

Here are some of the items included in the Army’s wish list: 

  • $1.3 billion for training, with allocations for home-station training, increased flying hours and operating ground vehicles, the purchase of ammunition for training, four exercises for emergency deployments, improvements at combat training centers and other training support.
  • Another $1.3 billion for installation support that includes 15 critical construction projects plus increasing funds for facilities sustainment and improvements.
  • $424.9 million to address shortfalls in maintenance and spare parts, including upgrading logistics system computers to Windows 10.
  • $356.5 million for enlistment incentives, recruiting and marketing.
  • $326.7 million for aviation programs.
  • Also requested is $1.3 billion to support recommendations of the National Commission on the Future of the Army.  This money would cover the purchase of five AH-64 Apache helicopters, 17 light utility helicopters and 24 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, plus modifications for CH-47 Chinook helicopters and enhancement in navigation systems.  It also funds four Army Guard Apache attack battalions, supports 11 combat aviation brigades, and increases readiness funds for Guard units.

Additionally, there is a $583 million boost requested in technological upgrades in weapons, cyber defenses and command centers for 10 installations; and $1 billion to support combatant commands by expanding intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as well as increasing ammunition reserves, getting more linguists and other global operations.

No money is requested to stop the Army from continuing to shed soldiers in 2017.

Milley’s comments about readiness came in defense of a budget that would increase operations and maintenance (O&M) spending from $43.8 billion this fiscal year to $45.2 billion in fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1.  Those totals include the base budget and overseas contingency funds.

The Regular Army would receive $35.4 billion in O&M in fiscal 2017, a $1.2 billion increase over the current 2016 budget.  This includes money for 19 combat training center rotations, maintaining 30 brigade combat teams, and converting one Stryker brigade into an infantry brigade.  It also increases funds for depot maintenance and prepositioned stocks.

The Army National Guard would receive $6.9 billion for readiness in 2017, a $300 million increase over 2016.  The Army Reserve would receive $2.7 billion, about the same as current year funding.

“We train like we fight, and our Army must always be ready to fight tonight,” Milley said, but he quickly added that not having to fight is a good thing.  “Readiness deters our most dangerous threats.  We are reminded, with alarming frequency, that great power conflicts are not dead. Today, they manifest on a regional basis.”

“Both Russia and China are challenging America's willingness and ability to enforce international standards of conduct,” he said.  “A ready Army provides America the strength to deter such actions.”

Congress has made no decision on fiscal year 2017 defense spending.  The Obama administration’s budget would provide the Army with $148 billion in the base budget and contingency funds, the same total spending as was available in 2016.