Shrinking resources are forcing the Pentagon to recast its priorities for bringing the armed forces into a new era, according to Army head of acquisition Heidi Shyu.
"The Army is still looking to modernize but on a much smaller scale, and it’s prioritizing the equipment that absolutely must be upgraded," she told Politico
. "We have some equipment that has been delayed in terms of modernization for a long time."
The Obama administration in 2009 began dismantling the $159 billion Future Combat Systems program. The initiative, launched a decade ago, was intended to modernize the armed forces by creating high-tech manned and unmanned vehicles and aircraft.
But the program, along with hundreds of others, is being cut, delayed or reduced, Politico noted. Shyu said the Army, though, is still committed to ensuring it has what it needs despite crippling budget cuts.
One program in jeopardy, however, is the Ground Combat Vehicle, intended to replace armored fighting vehicles. Shyu acknowledged that the program is at risk because it falls in the category of research and development, which is easier to cut because it generates savings.
The pressure to make even more cuts is not likely to let up any time soon. According to Dodbuzz.com
, the Defense Department faces some $500 billion in automatic cuts through 2021, a figure that does not include another $500 billion in cuts ordered in 2011 deficit-reduction legislation.
With more than 500,000 active-duty soldiers, more than any other branch, it’s easier to scale back or cancel weapons programs than cut payrolls, according to Shyu.
Shyu said the Army's current priorities include:
• Making sure soldiers fighting in Afghanistan are protected.
• Funding to withdraw military equipment from Afghanistan and refurbish it for its next use.
• Reducing operations and maintenance costs to preserve money for training.
• Investing in technology for soldiers – especially pilots –working in dangerous field operations and combat.
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