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Favorable Economic Conditions Could Fund Larger Army

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A powerful House committee has identified $4 billion in potential savings in 2017 defense budget initiatives such as reversing the Army’s force structure cuts.

The House Appropriations Committee identified $1.9 billion in potential savings by rescinding money previously provided to DoD but never used, plus $573 million resulting from economic conditions that are more favorable now than when the 2017 budget was created and $1.5 billion from fuel costs that are lower than projected.

Some of those savings could be used to pay for more soldiers in the Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, a cost of about $1.8 billion. Some savings could be used to pay for other force structure improvements, such as maintaining four AH-64 Apache attack helicopter battalions in the Army National Guard.

The committee’s draft version of the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill includes $374 million for 10 new Apaches and $46 million to support the annual operating costs of the four battalions. It also includes $131 million for 20 UH-72 Lakota training helicopters for increased flight training requirements, and $242 million for an additional 36 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters.

The committee also found funds to maintain a combat aviation brigade in Korea.