WASHINGTON — The Army’s $182 billion fiscal 2019 budget request is a major funding boost over recent years and seeks to continue readiness recovery and fill capability gaps.
The Army’s top line is a $13 billion increase over the yet-to-be-passed FY18 defense budget of $169 billion. The service wants $148 billion in its base budget and $34 billion in overseas contingency operations in order to make continued readiness improvements and to meet its requirements laid out in the new National Defense Strategy.
The Army’s base budget is seeing a $9 billion increase over last year’s funding and the OCO account has risen by $4 billion.
As Defense News first reported, the Army will increase its active force end-strength by 4,000 in FY19 to 487,500 troops. The service will continue to increase its force by 4,000 troops each year to reach a force of 495,500 by 2021.
While the active Army will grow, the reserve forces will not. Yet, the reserves will grow in full-time support, meaning more “citizen soldiers” will be full-time. The Army National Guard and Reserves requested to have more full-time support within its forces because they believe it will help them with their readiness.
As a result, the military personnel budget request increased by $2.6 billion from $58 billion in the FY18 request to $60.6 in FY19.
Operations and maintenance
The operations and maintenance (O&M) account would grow by $3 billion in FY19 from $39 billion in FY18 to $42 billion in the new request.
The funding would cover the standing up and resourcing of three additional Security Force Assistance Brigades. The SFABs were a new creation in FY18. The brigades will serve a dual-purpose as day-to-day experts to COCOM commanders to train, advise and assist partner nations and will also serve as the framework of a brigade combat team that can rapidly expand should the need arise. Last year’s budget funded two SFABS.
The O&M request also covers the funding required to convert an Infantry Brigade Combat Team into an Armored Brigade Combat Team.
The account will also prioritize prepositioning and rotations in the Pacific and Europe.
Funding will cover 20 Combat Training Center rotations, 16 for the active Army and four for the Army National Guard.
The FY19 $30 billion procurement account saw a rise over last year’s request by $3.3 billion.
The prioritization of funding within the account show the Army’s shift to a focus on armored combat against a near-peer adversary.
Weapons and tracked combat vehicles essentially doubled from last year’s request to $4.5 billion from $2.4 billion.
The Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Stryker Combat Vehicle will all receive increases in modernization funding to improve mobility and lethality.
Paladin Integrated Management howitzer procurement will be sustained as well as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle low-rate initial production.
The missiles procurement line fell from last year’s request from $3.6 billion in FY18 to $3.4 billion in FY19. Ammunition funding rose from $1.9 billion to $2.2 billion.
The Army plans to buy critical missile rockets and 155mm artillery projectiles. The service plans to buy 148,287 155mm projectiles in FY19 compared to just 16,573 in FY18.
Other munitions are seeing a plus-up as well from Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) through a service life extension program and the man-portable Javelin missile.
The Army is drastically increasing its ammunition production, investing $22 billion from FY19 through FY22. Previously in the FY18 through FY22 five-year plan, the Army was planning to spend $13.3 billion. Years of budget cuts have led to a growing shortage of munition production to restore what the Army has expended in various contingencies.
The $4.9 billion FY19 request for aircraft sustains AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinook helicopter remanufacture and new build procurement.
The request also contains a funding increase for the Joint Battle Command-Platform to improve mounted mission command.
Research and development
The Army’s research and development account rose from $9.4 billion in the FY18 request to $10.2 billion in FY19 mainly to address the Army’s top six modernization priorities.
The request boosts combat vehicle prototyping, Long-Range Precision Fires, synthetic training environment and short-range air defense funding.
LRPF is being developed to replace the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) capability with a maximum range greater than 400 kilometers. The budget requests provides $186 million to develop competitive prototyping and flight demonstrations.
The Army is scrambling to field short-range air defense capability, particularly in the European theater, and is seeking an interim solution ahead of developing a next-generation system. The FY19 request of $95 million will cover the fabrication of production representative articles and begins testing for an urgent materiel release.
And the service is laying the groundwork to field a Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) and is beginning prototyping efforts. The Army is requesting $119 million for concept development, trade studies, testing and prototyping and demonstration of both manned and unmanned vehicles to contribute to future designs.
There is increase in investment to develop a Mobile Protected Firepower capability in the FY19 request. The Army is asking for $394 million to build prototypes, ballistic hulls and test assets.
And the service will devote more funding toward the development of a Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS). The request for $12 million would support experimentation that will inform requirements and analysis of alternatives.
The Army also realigned $234 million within its science and technology accounts to address the Army’s modernization priorities. The service will shift roughly $1 billion and $2 billion across the future years defense plan (FYDP) — or five-year budget plan — from near-term counterinsurgency (COIN) S&T efforts to longer-term projects aligned with the priorities.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.