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Army Sends Congress List of Needs

troop strength

By Debbie Gregory.

The Army has been steadily drawing down the force since 2012, decreasing its numbers from a war time high of 570,000 active Army soldiers.

But following the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act in December, the Army is poised to increase its end-strength by 16,000 more soldiers than originally planned. What is yet to be determined is the amount of funding the Army will get in the fiscal year 2017 budget and beyond to cope with the proposed troop increase.

The bill adds billions of dollars for “unfunded priorities” that the Obama administration left out of its budget request. The House bill partly pays for those programs by siphoning about $18 billion from the account that directly supports overseas contingency operations.

Congress has yet to pass a 2017 appropriations bill, keeping the Defense Department operating under 2016 funding levels until April 30, 2017.

Besides troop strength, there is a need for modernization, particularly in aviation. The Army is asking for $2.5 billion for 10 new-build AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and advanced procurement for an additional 10 aircraft, 14 new-build CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters, 17 LUH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters, and 12 additional Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft.

Additionally, Bradley Fighting Vehicle production would be sped up to build one cavalry squadron set. The Army would also ramp-up the pace to modernization of 140 Stryker armored fighting vehicles to the Double V-Hull (DVH) variant as well as the production of 18 M88A2 Hercules armored recovery vehicles, which would accelerate the pure-fleet of M88A2 for all Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT) and ABCT support units.

Among other armor formation upgrades, the Army would procure battalion mortar capability for three ABCTs and would fund research and development to increase fire power of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle with a 30mm gun.

Electronic warfare is also a growing concern and the Army would speed up the procurement of ground and air electronic warfare capabilities.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Thornberry’s Bill Would Increase Troop Size

macmac

By Debbie Gregory.

Rep. Mac Thornberry has introduced a defense bill that would increase, rather than decrease, the size of the U.S. Army.

Thornberry has floated a brash plan to get around spending limits on the military. His defense budget dramatically boosts spending by $16 billion, pumping that money into the Army and troop pay as well as training, equipment and facilities.

The money would not only stop the Army from drawing down 15,000 soldiers in the coming year, it would add another 5,000.

His bill also aims to add an additional 15,000 troops to the National Guard, bringing the count up to 350,000, and 10,000 to the Reserves, for a total Reserve strength of 205,000. The bill would increase the strength of the Marine Corps by 3,000 and the Air Force by 4,000.

The size of the Army has been a major concern among lawmakers, many of whom have stated that the active force is too small to deal with the growing number of threats facing the U.S.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the plan is “deeply troubling and flawed” and that Thornberry is gambling with money for troops on the battlefield during a time of war.

Thornberry’s revised budget earmarks just over $2 billion in additional funding for the troop increase, according to language in the bill. That’s about $2.5 billion short of what the Army would need, according to Army senior leaders who have said that it will cost about $1 billion for every 10,000 soldiers.

“The proposal is designed to restore strength to the force through readiness investments and agility through much needed reforms, while providing a more solid foundation for the next President to address actual national security needs,” according to the bill’s summary.

Thornberry said the military is already suffering due to a lack of spending and it is “fundamentally wrong to send servicemembers out on missions for which they are not fully prepared or fully supported.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.