Army's top civilian says service found $25B to cut and move internally

Army's top civilian says service found $25B to cut and move internally
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The Army’s top civilian on Monday said the service has found $25 billion in its budget that it will reallocate to new priorities over the next five years.

Secretary Mark Esper said the savings would come from positions in equipping, he told reporters at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington.

He said the Army earlier this year began assessing how necessary certain programs are to meet major modernization plans.

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“Priorities are priorities and hard choices must be made. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, ‘don’t eliminate that program it’s only $10 million,’ or ‘don’t cut that office it’s only 15 people,’ ” Esper said.

“By going after the nickels and dimes, we’ve freed up over $25 billion in countless personnel billets that we will put back into building readiness and modernizing the Army.” 

Esper did not say exactly what would need to be cut to move $25 billion to other pots but said details will be in the Army’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal — to be sent to Congress in February.

The service last year announced that it planned to start up a new four-star organization known as Army Futures Command. The command will head efforts to help modernize the Army by 2028.

Esper said he, along with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, “spent 40, 50, 60 hours going through program after program after program after activity after activity to look at each one and assess it and ask ourselves ‘is this more important than a next-generation combat vehicle? Is this more important than a new squad automatic weapon? Is this more important than Long-Range Precision Fires?’” 

“We had to make those trade-offs and it resulted in, again, reductions and cancellations and consolidations.”