Esper, Milley: 2020 Budget Will ‘Sustain’ Army’s Efforts

Esper, Milley: 2020 Budget Will ‘Sustain’ Army’s Efforts

Photo by: U.S. Army

The Army's fiscal 2020 budget request will help the service continue its march toward higher levels of readiness and modernization, senior leaders told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In testimony March 26, Army Secretary Mark T. Esper and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley praised the committee and Congress for helping to “reverse the readiness decline” brought about by past budget uncertainty.

The Army is seeking a $182 billion budget in fiscal 2020, a 2.5 percent increase over current spending. The request is part of a larger defense budget of $750 billion in 2020. 

Acknowledging that “needs will always exceed the means” when it comes to funding the Army’s priorities, Esper said that “if Congress passes this budget, we will continue on a good trajectory with regard to restoring readiness and modernizing the Army, that’s the key thing right now.”

Milley reiterated the Army’s goal to have 66 percent of the Regular Army’s brigade combat teams and 33 percent of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve “at the highest levels of readiness” sometime in 2022. He pointed to the progress made by adversaries such as Russia and China in the development of their military capabilities, warning that without predictable funding, the U.S. military would fall behind.

“With your help starting two years ago, we began to restore our competitive advantage, and our recent budgets have helped improve readiness and our work for future modernization,” Milley said. “We ask with this budget that you sustain these efforts.”

The fiscal 2020 budget, he said, will continue to help build the Army’s readiness by funding 58 brigade combat teams, six security force assistance brigades, 32 combat training center rotations, including four rotations for the Army National Guard, increased prepositioned stocks in Europe and the Indo-Pacific theaters, and improve capabilities across the Army’s six modernization priority areas.

“This committee, and Congress as a whole, has provided us tremendous support over the last several years,” Milley said. “We recognize that, and we are committed to applying our resources deliberately and responsibly, understanding that they’ve been entrusted to us by Congress and the American people.”