Tuesday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, conducted a subcommittee hearing to review the Fiscal Year 2019 funding request and budget justification for the U.S. Army.
Dr. Mark T. Esper, Secretar of the Army, and General Mike A. Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, testified before the Subcommittee. Shelby questioned Esper and General Milley on the Army’s modernization priorities and strategy, including Army Futures Command. The witnesses also provided an update on security forces and operations in Afghanistan.
Shelby concluded his questions by asking Secretary Esper and General Milley to discuss the Army’s continued modernization of its Stryker Brigade Combat Teams, pointing out that adequate resourcing is critical to enabling the Army to fight and win.
“The Army is seeking $182.1 billion in its current request, which is an increase of about $5 billion over amounts appropriated for fiscal year 2018,” Shelby said. “With this budget request, the Army will continue to build readiness and counter threats posed by near-peer competitors while modernizing in order to face future threats. We acknowledge the challenging assignment you face to source an increasing demand for forces today while also modernizing to compete with more technically capable adversaries.”
At a recent appearance in Huntsville, Espers said, “By 2028, the total Army will need to reach 500K active Soldiers, with similar growth in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. Most importantly, the future Army must “focus on recruiting and retaining high quality, physically fit, mentally tough Soldiers, who will deploy, fight and win decisively on any future battlefield,” Esper said.
Unfortunately only 29 percent of the American people are fit, educated, and intelligent enough to enter the U.S. Army.
The future of Army training will be “tough, realistic, and dynamic,” Esper said, with a focus on urban operations — to include operating in megacities — and electronically harsh environments. To accomplish this, the new U.S. Army Futures Command must expand upon the synthetic training environment and implement a broad distribution of inter-connected simulation capabilities, Army-wide.
“A decade from now, our formations must be more robust, agile, and lethal,” Espers said. “We’ve already begun making these organizational changes. For example, we are increasing the capability of our formations, returning short-range air defense and multiple launch rocket systems battalions to our divisions.”
The modern Army must be equipped with the most advanced, capable and survivable combat systems industry can provide, Esper said. “A decade from now, preferably sooner, we will see our formations begin to fill with a variety of manned and unmanned combat vehicles, aircraft, sustainment systems and weapons. Greater use of autonomous systems, robotics, and artificial intelligence promises to make our units more lethal, our Soldiers less vulnerable, and the Army far, far more effective.”
In October, the Army announced the creation of Futures Command, which is expected to be operational sometime this summer. The new command was will be the Army’s fourth command and will have equal footing with U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and U.S. Army Materiel Command. The Army is currently looking for a home for Futures Command.
Senator Richard Shelby was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. He was elected as a Congressman in 1978 and as a State Senator in 1970. Shelby recently was appointed as Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee. He also chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.