WASHINGTON — The Senate Armed Services Committee would fund the U.S. Army’s entire list of unfunded requirements — also called a wish list — consisting of things the service wanted, but couldn’t pay for within the limitations of its top line fiscal 2022 budget request, according to a July 22 summary of the committee’s markup of the FY22 defense policy bill.
The Army’s wish list asked for $5.5 billion in additional money that would help reduce risk to operational readiness and protect critical modernization efforts.
At the bottom of a list of authorizations for the Army, the committee in its summary of the markup stated: “Authorizes all other unfunded requirements as requested by the Chief of Staff of the Army.”
The unfunded requirements list is a document the military services send to Congress each year following the release of the defense budget request to tell lawmakers about where they could use more funding in a perfect world. The lists are usually provided at the request of congressional defense committees.
The service needs additional funding beyond its $173 billion budget request for FY22 in order to hold on to momentum gained in recent years, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in a letter accompanying the wish list sent to Congress at the beginning of June. The FY22 budget is a $3.6 billion reduction from what was approved by Congress for FY21.
The Army protected its modernization priorities in the FY22 budget, but at the expense of legacy fleets. Some vehicles and aircraft will be procured or upgraded at a slower rate than planned. The service would like an additional $1.1 billion for tactical training, soldier quality of life and strategic power projection capabilities, as well as $1.9 billion for modernization and equipping that restores reductions in aviation, wheeled and tracked combat vehicles and cybersecurity upgrades, according to the list.
And the Army chief would like a $1 billion “placeholder” for “unforecasted” direct and enduring war costs (the new Overseas Contingency Operations funding) and homeland contingency operations. The next fiscal year marks the first year wartime funding is included in the base budget and not separated out since its inception.
The Army needs an additional $470.4 million to cover potential enduring and direct war costs, according to the list, and the service would like an additional $570 million to support homeland contingency operations.
While the Army was able to preserve its top modernization priorities and critical enablers it would like an additional $1.87 billion to move forward on a variety of efforts, according to the wish list.
Several analysts and lawmakers have deemed the Army’s FY22 research, development, test and evaluation funding request as inadequate.
Senate authorizers, in their markup of the FY22 defense policy bill, plan to “increase research, development, test and evaluation funding for Army modernization priorities and enduring capabilities that enable multi-domain operations against nearpeer competitors,” the summary of the bill stated.
But lawmakers would also increase the Army’s procurement of enduring fleets of aircraft, armored fighting vehicles and munitions “at or above the chief of staff unfunded requirements list level,” according to the summary.
Senate authorizers plan to increase funding for UH-60 Lima-model Black Hawk utility helicopters and CH-47F Block II Chinook cargo helicopters by $377 million.
Additionally, the lawmakers would increase funding for aircraft improvements like $15 million for the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter’s non-line-of-site munitions integration and improved tail rotor and $21 million for Chinook advanced development to include a vibration control system and integrated cargo handling and ballistic protection, the summary notes.
And another $746 million to procure enduring combat vehicles, which took cuts in the Army’s request, would be authorized to include Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin self-propelled howitzers and Joint Light Tactical Vehicles. Another plus-up of $64 million would go toward Abrams tank technology development. The Stryker and Bradley active protection systems programs, which have been in limbo, would get $21 million.
The Army’s wish list also included funding for the currently unfunded Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle program, which could be the Army’s earliest foray into a vehicle fleet that uses alternative fuel. The Senate lawmakers would provide funding for the ELRV program to kick off.
The service also wanted extra funding to replace its Shadow unmanned aircraft systems with Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems in eight Brigade Combat Teams, and the Senate authorizers are poised to provide that additional money.
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.