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Army's budget request prioritizes BCT Modernization

Feb 25, 2010

By Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 24, 2010) -- The new Brigade Combat Team Modernization plan and the Army’s goal to "achieve balance" by 2011 are among top priorities in the service’s budget request for next year.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Secretary of the Army John McHugh testified Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee about the Army’s budget for Fiscal Year 2011.

The Army’s BCT Modernization plan was released Feb. 19. It calls for fielding "Spin-Out" technologies such as sensors and robotics from the former Future Combat Systems program to all BCTs. It cancels the FCS Manned Ground Vehicle variants and calls for developing a new "Ground Combat Vehicle" that the Army can begin fielding within seven years.

A hybrid of capabilities, the vision for this new vehicle is to combine the best elements from existing combat carriers: the carrying capacity of an infantry squad, the underbelly protection of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicle, the off-road mobility of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the operational mobility of the Stryker, and the Army has requested $934 million to help develop it.

“This budget, as you can see, contains a significant adjustment to our modernization strategy,” Casey explained to the senators. “Together the rebalancing and the modular conversions represent the largest organizational transformation of the Army since World War II … and we will have done this while fighting two wars.”

In his opening statements, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), asked how the Army will work to restore balance should the budget be approved.

“The Committee is interested to learn more about how the Army's fiscal year 2011 budget request will achieve ‘balance’ in 2011, even assuming that declining operational demands on the force keep pace with current strategic plans,” Levin said.

Levin described ‘balance’ as Soldiers and units having more time at home than deployed, non-deployed units achieving required levels of personnel, equipment, and training readiness and Army families enjoying more stability.

Casey replied by acknowledging the need to create more predictability for deploying Soldiers and to reduce the stress that eight years of conflict has put on the military.

“I’ve been saying for the past three years that the Army is out of balance. That we’re so weighed down by our current commitments that we can’t do the things we know we need to do to sustain this all-volunteer force,” he said.

Casey outlined four imperatives that need to be met in order to reach the 2011 goal for getting back in ‘balance’: Sustaining Soldiers and their families, continuing to prepare Soldiers for the current conflict, resetting them when they return and taking care of Soldiers and their families suffering from the stress of ongoing operations.

“Our Soldiers today, through nearly eight years of war, have more expertise, more education, more training, and more lethal capabilities than ever before … but in spite of those significant gains, the stress on our personnel and their families remains all too real … for all our efforts, we remain out of balance,” agreed Secretary McHugh.

Other proposed budget highlights include Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, resetting of equipment in the drawdown of Iraq, continuing support for wounded warriors and support for Soldier and family programs.

The president’s proposed $548 billion base Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2011 will be examined by the Senate Armed Services Committee for the next several weeks as senators hear testimony from the Navy, Air Force and combatant commands.

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