At the tail-end of May the Department of Defense released its FY 2018 budget request, while the Comptroller of the Department of Defense published the Defense Budget Overview, a succinct explanation of the DoD’s proposed budgetary allocations. The Army’s budget request, as detailed in the Overview, will be used to fund a total force of over 180,000 troops, along with the necessary equipment, munitions, technologies and vehicles needed to support such a force. The budget request revealed an intense focus on modernization efforts, with the Army detailing its modernization priorities.
The priorities listed indicate a shift in the type of operations the Army expects it will engage in during the coming years. Instead of a focus on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, like the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the majority of the goals detailed in the budget request point towards regaining and bolstering the Army’s ability to engage in large-scale operations against near peer foes.
The Defense Budget Overview also notes that the Army will be investing heavily in Research,Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDTE) with the “majority of science and technology dollars [going towards] technologies customized to ground warfare such as modular active protective systems; assured position, navigation, and timing; long range fires cyber security; and robotics.”
A key area that the Army will be focusing its modernization efforts is cyber. As noted in the Overview, the Army “secures, operates, and defends its networks and conducts operations against a growing array of sophisticated cyber adversaries.” In order to keep up with, and ultimately surpass, these adversaries, the Army will need to continue allocating resources to its 62 Total Army Cyber teams. The FY 2018 budget request, if passed, will serve as a continuation of efforts to modernize and secure the global enterprise network. Furthermore, it would allow the Army to advance its offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.
Another modernization priority detailed in the FY 2017 budget request has to do with the Army’s vehicles. The Defense Budget Overview noted that the Army’s combat platforms include vehicles that were “originally fielded in the 1970s.” Though these vehicles have been usable for the past 40 years, the technological advancements of adversaries are quickly making them become obsolete. Without modernizing the Army’s combat platforms there will be a significant risk of falling behind, resulting in the loss of the Army’s competitive advantage.
Although the FY2018 defense policy bill was approved by the House Armed Services Committee at the tail-end of June, and is still pending full Congressional approval, there has been activity directed towards serving the Army in its modernization efforts for the past several months. Since the winter we’ve been seeing Army contracts awarded to support R&D of space or high-altitude missiles, missile defense technologies, general C4 and communication capabilities, modernizing C4ISR capabilities of land vehicles, counterfire radar technologies, SIGINT modifications, logistics modernization, and much more.
It is clear that the Army is fully dedicated its mission of modernization, and along with this dedication comes plenty of opportunities for industry to participate in actualizing the Army’s goals. The Army, as well as the Department of Defense as a whole, will need the help of the private sector in order to accomplish the goals of increasing the size of the U.S. armed forces and modernizing all of the military branches.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Army’s modernization plans you can attend the Potomac Officers Club’s 2017 Army Forum. The Forum’s line-up includes keynote speaker Steffanie Easter (U.S. Army), panelists Randall Conway (DoD) and Andrew Forysiak (U.S. Army), and will be moderated by Brian McKeon (Booz Allen Hamilton). The Forum will be held on August 30th at 7:00AM at 2941 Restaurant.
And in other Army related news, please join me in congratulating Dr. John Hillen on his new position on the board of advisors at Govini. Prior to his business career, Dr. Hillen served in the U.S. Army as a reconnaissance and special operations officer in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and also worked as a military policy expert. Dr. Hillen, who currently serves as executive-in-residence and professor of practice at George Mason University’s School of Business and as a board member of multiple companies, will work with other industry and former government professionals in the board to drive Govini’s data science efforts for the public sector.
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