FT. LAUDERDALE--Since Congress was never able to pass the fiscal 2011 federal budget—meaning that the whole operation might shut down on March 4—the U.S. government has existed by way of a series of continuing resolutions in order to pay its bills all year. According to several U.S. Army 3-star generals in charge of force modernization and logistics, this lack of guaranteed funding has had some seriously negative effects on the force’s modernization plans, as funds have been moved away form some programs in order to fund others that are more immediately critical to the fight in Afghanistan.
During a small panel discussion at the Army’s AUSA meeting yesterday, I asked Lt. Gen. William Phillips of the Army Acquisition Corps what effect the continuing resolutions have had on Army modernization plans. He said that continuing resolutions are “one of the most inefficient ways of doing business” and that being forced to move money out of some programs and into others are “going to cause [modernization and equipment reset] schedules to move to the right.”
Lt. Gen Robert Lennox, the Army’s deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, said that “we’ve had to call a lot of audibles” on funding for different programs, adding that “almost every program has been effected” but that tradeoffs have been made in order to fund critical programs that are close to heading to Afghanistan. He said that the Army has been “reprogramming some funds for ISR” heading to Afghanistan.
The defense budget requested by president Obama for fiscal 2011 was $548 billion, and Secretary of Defense Gates said during the budget rollout earlier this month that the Pentagon needs at least $540 billion in order to meet its needs before the fiscal 2012 budget cycle begins.
One program that has been seriously impacted is the planned modernization of the Stryker fleet, which calls for giving them a new suspension system and a more powerful engine to be able to better deal with the increased weight that new armor kits have added to the platform. The official Stryker modernization program is currently on a partial stop work because of the continuing resolutions, forcing the Army and General Dynamics to shift money from modernization to the testing and evaluation of the double V-hull program. The first 150 double V-hulled Strykers will be shipped to Afghanistan in June, while the modernization of the fleet will have to wait, probably until next year, according to company reps.
We’ll see how this all shakes out with other programs if the Feds really do have to shut down operations next week.
Pic: US Army