Wormuth: Budget Delays Have ‘Significant Consequences’

Wormuth: Budget Delays Have ‘Significant Consequences’

Soldiers recruting
Photo by: U.S. Army/Sgt. Omar Joseph

Any further budget delays, including the possibility of a full-year stopgap funding measure, will have “significant consequences” for the Army and its efforts to recruit, modernize and support missions around the world, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth warns.

“The significant consequences for our recruiting efforts, acquisition portfolio, and military construction program would diminish the Army’s ability to achieve its mission in support of the National Defense Strategy, including by taking care of our people,” Wormuth writes in a Dec. 12 letter to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I urge Congress to pass a full-year appropriation for FY 2024.”

Since fiscal 2024 began Oct. 1, the Army and the rest of DoD have been operating under a temporary funding measure. Known as a continuing resolution, the measure keeps funding at the previous year’s levels and prohibits new program starts.

The current continuing resolution for DoD expires Feb. 2. Fiscal year 2024 ends Sept. 30. With an increasingly challenging environment in Congress, there have been discussions about the possibility of a full-year continuing resolution.

Such a continuing resolution would have “significant negative effects” on the Army, which has never gone a full year without an appropriation, Wormuth writes. She is among several senior DoD leaders, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown and the other service secretaries, who have written letters to lawmakers urging them to pass a full-year budget.

“While the Army and its Soldiers will always show up to protect our nation, a full-year CR would severely constrain our ability to achieve our mission while making crucial investments in future capabilities,” Wormuth writes. “With our country facing the most dangerous security environment in decades, we need to avoid the harm a year-long CR would inflict on our force.”

Recruiting is one of the areas that will be impacted, Wormuth writes. The Army is already struggling to meet its recruiting goals in a tough market, but a yearlong continuing resolution would constrain the Army’s efforts by limiting funds available for large prospecting events and marketing efforts. Additionally, “once we begin paying our soldiers’ well-earned 5.2% pay raise on January 1, not accounted for in CR funding levels, there will be less money available for recruiting bonuses and incentives,” Wormuth writes.

Under a continuing resolution, military construction projects cannot begin, forcing the Army to delay 35 projects, including five barracks and four family housing projects, Wormuth writes. A continuing resolution also sets back long-range precision fires acquisition efforts, delaying fielding of the Mid-Range Capability system to the first unit equipped and other programs, Wormuth said.

The Army also would not be able to award a follow-on contract to maximize production rates for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle or initiate $120 million in advance procurement needed for future production of the Abrams tank. A continuing resolution also would delay eight projects vital to modernizing the organic industrial base, Wormuth writes.

“A full-year appropriation would allow the Army to invest in these needed capabilities—including our most valuable asset, our people—as we seek to match the pacing threat, support Ukraine against Russian aggressions, and care for our soldiers, civilians, and their families,” Wormuth writes.

Read the letter here.