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Vice Chief: Army Could ‘Divest’ More Weapons, Equipment

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Army is moving to divest itself from nonessential weapons and equipment in hopes of saving billions that can be put to use paying for higher priorities, the Vice Chief of Staff said Tuesday at a breakfast sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare. 

Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, who has been the Vice Chief since 2014, said the Army staff and major commands are “identifying programs for divestiture,” an action that would be similar to the decision to completely eliminate the TH-67 training helicopter and the OH-58 Kiowa observation helicopter. 

Completely eliminating entire classes of helicopter across the Army can save billions while just reducing the number of airframes would save millions, Allyn said in explaining the radical decision to help fund the Army’s future. 

The Army’s helicopter plan, which requires modernization of Apaches and Blackhawk helicopters and shifting of airframes between active and National Guard units, would result in 900 helicopters being retired. Completely eliminating classes of airframes allows saving in recruiting, training and maintenance that would not be possible if the numbers were just reduced, Allyn said.  

Allyn offered divestiture as an example of the extraordinary steps the Army is taking to stretch limited resources, a move he said is necessary to maintain a strong force.  

The strain on the Army is “dangerously reminiscent"  of what happened 65 years ago at the beginning of the Korean War when Army units had suffered five years of insufficient funding and training when called to action. “Does this sound like anything anybody has heard of lately?” Allyn asked. 

In many ways, the current situation is more risky because the world “is more dangerous and unpredictable,” he said. “We face a tough balancing act right now.” 

The Army is trying to improve readiness by sending more units to training, attempting to overcome a situation where one-third of combat brigades are not fully ready, he said. The goal is to have two-thirds fully trained and ready. 

Army leaders also recognize that a budget-driven pause in modernization cannot continue for long without risk, Allyn said. “The bill payer for the last two years has been our modernization program,” he said.