US Army delivers $185.5 billion request for FY24 and maintains weapons development portfolio
WASHINGTON — Senior Army leaders say their relatively flat budget proposal of $185.5 billion in discretionary spending for next year will sustain an active force of 452,000 troops, keep new weapons development programs on track and fund a push toward the Indo-Pacific.
This plan is part of the White House $886.4 billion national security spending roadmap for FY2024, with $842 billion destined for the Department of Defense coffers — a 3.2 percent increase from the level approved for FY23. While that’s just a requirement, and lawmakers will spend the coming months realigning spending priorities, the Army’s share includes $15.8 billion for research and development, $23.4 billion for weapons procurement, 69 $.8 billion for military personnel, $72.1 billion for operations and maintenance, and $2.8 billion for military construction, and $1.7 billion for his “other” account.
That total comes to about $185.5 billion, just above this year’s approved level of $185.2 billion — in real terms, about one 2.1 percent reduction based on government GDP inflation figure of 2.4 percent.
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“We are very convinced of that [in] In FY24, we are positioned to sustain the investments we need to execute the modernization strategy that we have laid out.” Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo said March 10 during a media roundtable. A variety of factors can change this calculus, including changing needs or budget constraints as more programs move from development to production.
Research, Development and Acquisition FY24 accounts “are very well funded,” added acquisitions director Douglas Bush. “All efforts are funded to stay on track. I think that in itself is a big deal, and we’re preserving the discretionary power for the Secretary and Secretary of State over time to shape our modernization portfolio.”
As for the army’s actual manpower, Camarillo said the service expects another tough recruiting year in 2024 and will maintain final strength on active duty 452,000 troops, or about where he expects the Sept. 30 number when fiscal 23 ends. The Army National Guard personnel strength is set at 325,000, while the reserve component is said to number nearly 174,800 soldiers.
The services have yet to release their fiscal 24 budget justification documents, which detail next year’s investment plans, but Camarillo and Bush have previewed some of the key points included in the request and some programs ahead of development challenges.
When it comes to long-range precision firing, one of the service’s top priorities, the service plans to continue investing in several initiatives, including $944 million for research and development and an additional $157 million for procurement long-range hypersonic weapons program; $$380 million for R&D and another $170 million for procurement Mid-Range Capability Missile; And $273 million for research and development of future Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) increments and $384 million for the purchase of 110 PrSM Inc 1 missiles.
In the air, the service wants to continue investing in its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) initiative to replace AH-64D Apache attack helicopters and requested $458 million to keep it going. Down on the ground, the service wants to launch a prototyping competition for light robotic combat vehicles and plans to invest $142 million there over the next year.
For the army Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program with Microsoft, the service allocates $77.5 million to continue development of a version 1.2 in FY24 and has committed $91.3 million towards procurement if the development proves to be successful.
However, Bush cautioned that these IVAS raising funds are dependent on development success and overcoming past problems that have plagued the HoloLens 2 heads-up display militarization program.
“We are developing version 1.2 [and] we’ll know a lot more this fall once we have prototypes,” Bush said. “I think at that point we’ll be able to talk to Congress about what procurement potential there is for FY24 versus what’s currently funded for R&D.”
When it comes to soldier gear like IVAS, the Army is also planning and requesting to ramp up production of Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW) next year $293 million for guns and $191 million for ammunition. If lawmakers approve these funds, the service plans to purchase 17,122 NGSW rifles, 1,419 NGSW automatic rifles, 14,932 fire control systems and 21 million rounds of ammunition.
While Bush said he would not be canceling any new programs this year, noting that most of the Army’s weapons development programs remain broadly on track, he said three face challenges and their schedules have been pushed back — the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA), the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS), and the Improved Turbine Engine Program.
supporting the industrial base
At a larger level, the department as a whole is seeking the award of multi-year munitions procurement contracts, with a senior defense official telling reporters March 10 that five were included in the request: Naval Strike Missile; RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM) or Standard Missile 6 (SM-6); AIM-120 Advanced medium-range air-to-air missile; long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM); and AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER).
Bush previously said the Army will also include some of its munitions programs in this request, but the senior defense official said more work needs to be done before the Army and Lockheed Martin commit to multi-year purchases of the Patriot launcher and guided multiple-launch missile system (GMLRS).
“This classic problem that we face with the industry…the boards of these companies want to see what’s in the five-year plan, they want to see contracts,” the senior defense official said, referring to Patriot and GMLRS. “So we’re looking to see if we can’t get there on those two things as well, but that’s going to be an addendum and an addition to the budget.
“These things are absolutely not ready and baked,” the official added.
The Army’s budget includes plans to initiate a Stinger replacement program next year, Bush confirmed.
He also noted that the Army’s FY24 budget includes “significant additional funds” that will be spread over the next five years to “accelerate” the Army’s Organic Industrial Base (OIB) strategy. Though he didn’t give specific details, Army budget director Maj. Gen. Mark Bennett said the service is requesting $726 million for next year for munitions facilities and $115 million for weapons and combat vehicle production.
“That’s how we got together [OIB] Approach… [and] This has impacted our baseline budget approach with respect to other investments in the OIB, which will similarly help us accelerate some of our plans,” Camarillo added.
In addition to weapons and platform plans for next year, army leaders said they continue to follow government guidance to align with China toward the Indo-Pacific in the event of an emergency. As part of this push includes the Army’s request $1.4 billion for the The Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) is fully funding the Pacific Pathways exercises and includes $1.1 billion for investments in contested logistics.