In FY21 budget, US Army restores $200 million cut from night court

Jen Judson

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has restored, in its fiscal 2021 budget, funding to 12 programs — totaling nearly $200 million — which it cut during its FY20 night court review, according to a document the service released Feb. 14.

The FY20 and FY21 budgets show the fruits of the Army’s labor to dive deep into the budget and find money from lower priority programs that could be shifted to fund big modernization efforts across six priorities that better align with the service’s emerging doctrine and the National Defense Strategy’s goals.

While the Army’s first round of night court found more than $30 billion to shift to high-priority programs, the service’s second round, reflected in FY21, is “much more tepid,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said at the National Press Club on Feb. 14. The Army is shifting $13.5 billion across its five-year defense plan from FY21 through FY25, this time around.

McCarthy also noted that most of the programs that saw cancellations, reductions or delays were not as big or complex as some of the programs that experienced cuts the previous budget cycle.

The Army, for instance, cut upgrade plans to the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle as well as plans to buy the newest CH-47F Chinook helicopter for the active force in FY20.

The service’s top 10 list of cuts (it actually canceled 39 programs and reduced or delayed another 41 in FY21), released Feb. 13, showed plans to delay procurement for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, killed a new start to build a land-based cruise missile and canceled further procurement of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, to name a few.

The entire list of cancellations, reductions and delays — with some funding values missing ― was released to the press Feb. 14 after McCarthy promised to provide it during the press club event, and with those documents came one outlining restorations.

The Army is not restoring any funding when it comes to the cuts it made to the Bradley and Chinook programs in FY20, despite some congressional pushback, particularly on the Chinook buy.

But it is restoring funds to munitions, some networking and communications programs, test range assets, and a vehicle program. The Army is moving $19 million back into its Infantry Squad Vehicle program — or the Ground Mobility Vehicle — to accelerate production to meet requirements. The Titan ground station, which is the service’s effort to link battlefield sensors into one expeditionary and scalable intelligence ground station, is getting $82 million back to support the prototyping phase.

Additionally, the Army is returning $12 million to fund network operating tools, noting that the original cut was too deep and in order to reduce risk to installation network protection capability, funding needed to be returned.

The service is also restoring $12.1 million to the Unified Command Suite program, which will complete the initial procurement quantity.

Communications security programs are getting back at least $44 million due to a high risk of communication security compromise, the document noted.

A small amount of funding is going back into bursting munitions accounts to cover critical needs for urban terrain operations, and another $4 million was returned to the precision fires account for dismounted and mounted operations.

The Army is also returning roughly $18 million to test range improvements, to include $16 million for range radar replacement efforts. All of the additional funding that would improve test ranges and assets are being restored to directly support the testing plans of cross-functional teams assigned to each of the Army’s top modernization priorities.