U.S. Army

An Assessment of U.S. Military Power

U.S. Army

Nov 17, 2020 About an hour read

Guardsmen detonate a demolition charge as part of training during Noble Partner in Georgia, Sept. 14, 2020. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class R.J. Lannom

Thomas W. Spoehr

The U.S. Army is America’s primary land warfare component. Although it addresses all types of operations across the range of ground force employment, its chief value to the nation is its ability to defeat and destroy enemy land forces in battle. Operationally, as of March 3, 2020, the Army had “over 190,000 soldiers deployed in 140 countries all around the world.”1

The summer of 2020 finds the Army, like the rest of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), dealing with and supporting national efforts to mitigate the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Thus far, the impacts have been moderate and manageable. As of July 1, 2020, DOD reported a total of 12,521 “cumulative cases” of coronavirus,2 and this number can certainly be expected to grow. Army recruiting has shifted to virtual, basic training and has been modified to allow for greater social distancing, and normal permanent change of station moves for Army personnel, like the rest of DOD, were paused until at least the end of June 2020. The largest impact on the Army thus far has been forced cancellation of major training exercises and collective training opportunities. DEFENDER-Europe 20, “which was supposed to be the Army’s largest exercise in Europe in 25 years,” had to be truncated, although there still was some deployment training.3

Social distancing is not a true option for the U.S. Army. Realistic training involves manning combat vehicles and platforms where distancing is not possible. Command posts of all sizes bring soldiers into close proximity. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues past the summer, greater impacts on readiness should be expected.

To understand the Army of 2020 requires knowledge of what has transpired in the past two decades. Starting in 2001, the Army’s focus became consumed by counterinsurgency (CI) operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2016, however, the Army had begun to reorient toward great-power conflict. Publication of the National Security Strategy in December 20174 and the National Defense Strategy (NDS) in January 20185 gave further impetus to the need to reorient Army modernization programs, training, and doctrine to address near-peer conflict, especially conflict involving China and Russia. The 2018 National Defense Strategy captured the situation:

Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding. We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.6

Two factors have placed the Army at a relative disadvantage compared to near-peer competitors in the past 10 years: years of relentless counterinsurgency commitments and budget constraints imposed by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011.7 A narrow focus on CI slowed or stopped most Army modernization programs except those designed specifically for CI-type operations. Development of next-generation capabilities in air and missile defense, electronic warfare, precision fires, and ground combat vehicles was curtailed in favor of CI capabilities. Training centers prepared forces exclusively for counterinsurgency. The BCA reinforced the damage by removing billions of dollars of expected funding at the very time the Army was again beginning to concentrate on great-power competition. As a result of the BCA, Army end strength was shrinking to meet lower expected resources, remaining equipment programs were terminated, and funding for operations and maintenance was constrained.

The situation was aptly summarized in 2018 by former Defense Secretary James Mattis:

Let me be clear: As hard as the last 16 years of war have been on our military, no enemy in the field has done as much to harm the readiness of U.S. military than the combined impact of the BCA’s [Budget Control Act] defense spending caps, worsened by operating for 10 of the last 11 years under continuing resolutions of varied and unpredictable duration.8

The Army has since responded admirably, shifting its focus to concentrate on great-power competition. Combat Training Center (CTC) scenarios now focus nearly exclusively on high-end decisive action scenarios, new materiel programs like longer-range artillery and precision missiles with utility in near-peer competitor situations are underway, and organizational structures are being designed and in some cases implemented. Warfighting concepts and doctrine are also shifting to this new construct.

This is all appropriate, but unlike the aftermath of the Vietnam War, when the 1976 version of the Army’s primary doctrinal manual omitted any mention of counterinsurgency operations, the Army thus far has also seen fit to maintain some capabilities like Security Force Assistance Brigades, counter-drone equipment, and robust Special Operations capabilities that have utility in operations at a lower level of intensity. As it moves into the future, the Army should continue to guard against the pendulum swinging too far in the new direction of great-power competition and maintain critical capabilities for CI and stability operations, as well as support for their intellectual underpinnings.

Beginning with supplemental appropriations in the summer of 2016, increased defense budgets initiated by the Trump Administration and approved by Congress have begun to bear fruit. Readiness levels have improved among Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs); numerous modernization programs have been initiated; and end strength has grown, albeit modestly.

Both former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and current Secretary of Defense Mark Esper have stated that DOD needs 3 percent–5 percent real growth in its budget from 2017 to 2023.9 Starting with the 2018 budget request, however, the Army’s funding levels first plateaued and then declined. The Army received a total of $179 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2018 and has requested $178 billion for FY 2021. Because of the inexorable march of inflation, the flat line in the budget for the three consecutive fiscal years of 2019, 2020, and 2021 represents a net loss of about 6 percent in buying power.10 Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has testified that with the prospect of a flat budget, the Army is faced with “either flattening [e]nd strength or tiering the modernization strategy,” which means, “within the portfolios, choos[ing] divisions that you would scale first.” This leaves the Army with “nothing but really, very difficult challenges, without an increased top line.”11

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Capacity refers to sufficiency of capabilities needed to execute the strategy. Among the ways the Army quantifies its warfighting capacity is in numbers of Brigade Combat Teams, which are the basic building blocks for employment of Army combat forces. BCTs are usually employed within a larger framework of U.S. land operations but are equipped and organized so that they can conduct independent operations as circumstances demand.12 According to the DOD Inspector General, an Armored BCT “has an approximate personnel strength of 4,700 soldiers,” an Infantry BCT “has an approximate personnel strength of 4,400 soldiers,” and a Stryker BCT “has an approximate personnel strength of 4,500 soldiers.”13

However, the number of BCTs is a more telling measure of actual hard Army power. End strength reductions forced by the BCA and the priorities of the Obama Administration caused the Regular Army to decrease from 45 BCTs in FY 2013 to the 31 BCTs that remain in FY 2020.14 Then, when the President and Congress reversed the drawdown in end strength and authorized growth starting in 2017, instead of “re-growing” the numbers of BCTs, the Army chose primarily to “thicken” the force and raise the manning levels within the individual BCTs to increase unit readiness. The Army’s goal is to fill operational units to 105 percent of their authorized manning by the end of 2020.15

The Army also has a separate air component organized into Combat Aviation Brigades (CABs), which can operate independently. CABs are made up of Army rotorcraft, such as the AH-64 Apache, and perform various roles including attack, reconnaissance, and lift. The number of Army aviation units has also experienced a reduction. In May 2015, the Army deactivated one of its 12 CABs, leaving only 11 in the Regular Army.

CABs and Stryker, Infantry, and Armored BCTs make up the Army’s main combat forces, but they obviously do not make up the entirety of the Army. About 90,000 Regular Army troops form the Generating Force and provide such types of support as preparing and training troops for deployments, carrying out key logistics tasks, and overseeing military schools and Army educational institutions. The troops constituting the Generating Force cannot be reduced at the same ratio as BCTs or CABs, and the Army endeavors to insulate these soldiers from drawdown and restructuring proposals in order to “retain a slightly more senior force in the Active Army to allow growth if needed.”16

In addition to the institutional Army, a great number of functional or multifunctional support brigades (amounting to approximately 42 percent of the active component force based on historical averages17) provide air defense; engineering; explosive ordnance disposal (EOD); chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear protection; military police; military intelligence; and medical support among other types of battlefield support. Many of these units are proving valuable in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Special operations forces such as the 75th Ranger Regiment, Special Forces Groups, and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are also included in these numbers.

The Army has begun the process of adapting its force structure to meet the anticipated new demands of near-peer competition. The foundations for these changes are contained in the Army’s 2018 concept for multi-domain operations (MDO), which outlines how the Army views the future.18 In April 2020, the Army announced that it is bundling its efforts to modify force structure for MDO under the designation “AimPoint Initiative.” As part of this initiative, the Army intends to reactivate the V Corps Headquarters in the fall of 2020 and create three Multi-Domain Task Forces (MDTFs). The first MDTF already exists under U.S. Army Pacific Command as a pilot program and is intended to “focus on penetrating an enemy environment, employing assets that can counter enemy A2/AD [anti-access/aerial denial] capabilities and enemy network-focused targeting of U.S. units.” The second MDTF is scheduled to be activated in Europe in 2021, and the third is scheduled to be activated in the Pacific in 2022.19

In 2017, to relieve the stress on the use of BCTs, the Army activated the first of six Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs). These units, composed of about 800 soldiers per unit, are designed specifically to train, advise, and mentor other partner-nation military units.20 The Army had been using BCTs for this mission, but because train-and-assist missions typically require senior officers and noncommissioned officers, a BCT comprised predominantly of junior soldiers is a poor fit. Since 2018, SFABs have deployed to assist foreign partners in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa. The last SFAB to activate, the 5th SFAB, was scheduled to activate in the summer of 2020 at Joint Base Lewis–McChord, Washington.21 Of the six SFABs, one is in the National Guard, and the other five are in the Regular Army.

In FY 2020, the Army was authorized a total end strength of 1,005,500 soldiers: 480,000 in the Regular Army, 189,500 in the Army Reserve, and 336,000 in the Army National Guard (ARNG).22 Although these numbers admittedly sound impressive, Army leaders have consistently stated that the Army is too small to execute the National Defense Strategy at less than significant risk. In 2017, in perhaps the clearest of these statements, General Mark Milley, then Chief of Staff of the Army, testified that in his judgment, the numbers should be 540,000–550,000 for the Regular Army, 350,000–355,000 for the National Guard, and 205,000–209,000 for the Army Reserve.23 Since then, with the publishing of the 2018 NDS and its emphasis on great-power competition, the requirements placed on the Army have increased.

More recently, responding to written “Advance Policy Questions” from the Senate Armed Services Committee in conjunction with his nomination, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has stated that he believes the Army’s “end strength levels are insufficient to meet national defense objectives” and that “I am concerned about the Army’s ability to defeat a near-peer adversary while nearly simultaneously denying the objectives of another, defending the homeland, and sustaining counter terrorism efforts.”24 Current Army Chief of Staff General James McConville echoed this statement: “The total Army needs to be larger and fully resourced with timely, adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding to reduce the risk.”25

Secretary McCarthy has said the nation needs a Regular Army of at least 500,000, but under current plans, the Army is many years from achieving that goal.26 On March 31, 2020, the Regular Army stood at 479,233 soldiers—20,767 less than the minimum that Army leaders have testified is necessary.27 The Army’s FY 2021 budget request specifies an end strength of 485,900 for FY 2021 and projects an end strength of 490,500 by the end of FY 2025, which represents an average growth of 1,150 soldiers per year.28 At that rate, the service will not reach its minimum stated goal of 500,000 until 2034, 14 years from now. The slowdown in planned growth is being driven first and foremost by a lack of funding, although recruiting has also emerged as a challenge.

Most outside experts agree that the U.S. Army is too small. In 2017, Congress established the bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission to provide an “independent, non-partisan review of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.” Among its findings, the commission noted that the NDS now charges the military with facing “five credible challengers, including two major-power competitors and three distinctly different geographic and operational environments.” The commission assessed that “this being the case, a two-war force sizing construct makes more strategic sense today than at any previous point in the post-Cold War era.” In other words, “[s]imply put, the United States needs a larger force than it has today if it is to meet the objectives of the strategy.29

The Army also has transitioned from a force with a third of its strength typically stationed overseas, as it was during the Cold War, to a force that is based in the continental United States. In 1985, 31 percent of the active-duty Army was stationed overseas; by 2015, that figure had declined to 9 percent.30 The desire to find a peace dividend following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, combined with a reluctance to close bases in the United States, led to large-scale base closures and force reductions overseas. Lack of a substantial overseas presence makes prompt response more difficult and lessens deterrence.

In addition to the increased strategic risk of not being able to execute the NDS within the desired time frame, the result of an insufficient number of BCTs and a diminished Army end strength has been a higher than desired level of operational tempo (OPTEMPO). Despite a reduction in large unit deployments, particularly to Iraq and Afghanistan, Army units continue to experience sustained demand. In March 2020, the Army was experiencing deployment-to-dwell ratios as high as 1 to 1, which is much higher than desired.31

Included in these deployments are the rotations of Armored BCTs to and from Europe and Korea. Rather than relying on forward-stationed BCTs, the Army rotates Armored BCTs to Europe and Korea on a “heel-to-toe” basis. There is disagreement as to which represents the best option. Proponents of rotational BCTs argue that they arrive fully trained and remain at a high state of readiness throughout their typically nine-month overseas rotation; those who favor forward-stationed forces point to a lower cost, forces that typically are more familiar with the operating environment, and a more reassuring presence for our allies.32 In reality, both are needed not only for the reasons mentioned, but also because the mechanisms by which a unit is deployed, received into theater, and integrated with the force stationed abroad must be practiced on a regular basis.

In an effort to mitigate risk, the Army is resourcing select Army National Guard BCTs with additional training days, moving from the standard number of 39 training days to as many as 63 per year to increase readiness levels. To apply these resources, the National Guard has implemented a multi-year training cycle to build readiness over time. As part of this concept, the Army increased the number of National Guard BCTs participating in a Combat Training Center (CTC) rotation from two to four starting in FY 2019. This continues in the fiscal year 2021 budget request.33

As a result of this change in strategy and the increased investment in the National Guard, the 2021 Index of U.S. Military Strength counts four ARNG BCTs in the overall Army BCT capacity count, reflecting their ability to be employed on a dramatically shortened timeline as a result of their training at a Combat Training Center and the increased number of resourced training days.

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Capability in this context refers to the quality, performance, suitability, and age of the Army’s various types of combat equipment. As a general rule, the Army is primarily using equipment developed in the 1970s, fielded in the 1980s, and incrementally upgraded since then. This modernization gap was caused by several factors: the predominant focus on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11; pressures caused by budget cuts, especially those associated with the Budget Control Act of 2011; and failures in major modernization programs like the Future Combat System, Ground Combat Vehicle, and Crusader artillery system.

Army leaders today clearly view this situation as a serious challenge. Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has testified that “the most significant challenge” the Army faces “is being able [to] execute our aggressive modernization strategy while maintaining a sustainable level of readiness to meet current operational requirements.”34 Through 2022 and later, most of the Army’s proposed programs will still be in development and sensitive to changes in funding or priorities. Even once the programs enter procurement, funding constraints will drive fielding into the 2030s, delaying the arrival of new capability.

As an example, the M109 series howitzer was first introduced in the early 1960s and has been upgraded multiple times since then. An important part of an artillery system is its range. Today, most modern countries have artillery systems that can outrange the Paladin 109A7, the Army’s current self-propelled howitzer. The Paladin can fire an artillery shell about 22 kilometers–30 kilometers. The Russian 2S33 Msta-SM2 reportedly can hit targets at 40 kilometers.35 Similarly, the German PzH 2000, Chinese PLZ-05, South Korean K9, and French CAESAR systems all outrange the Paladin.36 The Army has an extended-range cannon in development that can fire to 70 kilometers, but it is not yet available and is not expected until at least 2023.37

Within the Army’s inventory of equipment are hundreds of combat systems, including small arms, trucks, aircraft, soldier-carried weapons, radios, tracked vehicles, artillery systems, missiles, and drones. The following paragraphs provide an update on some of the major systems as they pertain to Armored, Stryker, and Infantry BCTs and Combat Aviation Brigades, but it is by no means exhaustive.

Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). The Armored BCT’s “role is to close with the enemy using fire and movement to destroy or capture enemy forces, to repel enemy attacks by fire, to engage in close combat, and to counterattack to control land areas, including populations and resources.”38 The Abrams Main Battle Tank (latest version: M1A2 SEPv3, service entry date 2017) and Bradley Fighting Vehicle (latest version: M2A4) are the primary combat platforms in Armored BCTs. The M-1 tank and Bradley first entered service in 1980 and 1981, respectively. Today, there are 87 M-1 Abrams tanks and 152 Bradley Fighting Vehicle variants in an ABCT.39 Despite upgrades, the M-1 tank and the Bradley are now 40 years old, and their replacements will likely not arrive until the platforms are at least 50 years old.

The Army’s replacement program for the Bradley, the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, was formerly on an aggressive timeline, but the Army cancelled the request for proposals on January 16, 2020, and is now reworking the requirements in conjunction with industry. “The Army now plans for the first unit to be equipped in the fourth quarter of FY2028.”40 A potential replacement for the M-1 tank is even further down the road; the Army does not intend to decide “what direction we want to go for decisive lethality and survivability on the battlefield” until at least 2023.41

Also in Armored BCTs, the venerable M113 multi-purpose personnel carrier, which fills multiple roles like mortar carrier and ambulance, entered service in 1960 and is scheduled to be replaced by the new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), which passed acquisition milestone C on January 25, 2019, and was scheduled to begin low-rate initial production in the first half of FY 2020. In a signal of budget pressure, program problems, or both, the Army reduced its planned procurement of the AMPV in its FY 2021 budget request.42 At the new projected average procurement rate of about 190 vehicles per year starting in 2022, the Army will not reach its stated objective of 2,897 AMPVs until around 2037.43

Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT). The Stryker BCT “is an expeditionary combined arms force organized around mounted infantry” and able to “operate effectively in most terrain and weather conditions due to their rapid strategic deployment and mobility.”44 Stryker BCTs are equipped with approximately 321 eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles. These vehicles are among the Army’s newest combat platforms, having entered service in 2001. In response to an Operational Needs Statement, the Stryker BCT in Europe received Strykers fitted with a 30mm cannon to provide an improved anti-armor capability.45 Based on the success of that effort, the Army decided to outfit at least three of its SBCTs—the ones equipped with the Double V-hull, which affords better underbody protection against such threats as improvised explosive devices (IEDs)—with the XM813 30mm autocannon, although the competition to integrate those weapons is currently delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.46 The Army is also integrating Javelin missiles on the Stryker platform.

Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). The Infantry BCT “is an expeditionary, combined arms formation optimized for dismounted operations in complex terrain—a geographical area consisting of an urban center larger than a village and/or of two or more types of restrictive terrain or environmental conditions occupying the same space.”47 Infantry BCTs have fewer vehicles and rely on lighter platforms such as trucks and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) for mobility.

The Joint Lightweight Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is designed to combine the protection offered by Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs) with the mobility of the original unarmored HMMWV. The vehicle features design improvements that increase its survivability against anti-armor weapons and IEDs. The Army plans to procure 49,099 JLTVs over the life of the program, replacing about 50 percent of the current HMMWV fleet. Requested FY 2021 funding of $894.4 million would procure 1,920 JLTVs and 1,334 trailers.48 This is a reduction of $202 million from the amount planned just a year ago and reflects the budget pressures the Army is facing. Taking into account the 5,162 JLTVs the Army has already procured, and procuring at a rate of 1,920 vehicles per year starting in 2021, the Army will not reach its acquisition objective for the JLTV until 2043, forcing continued reliance on aging HMMWVs, which began fielding in 1983.

The Army is developing a system called Mobile Protected Firepower to provide IBCTs with the firepower to engage enemy armored vehicles and fortifications. In FY 2020, the Army is scheduled to receive 24 prototypes (12 each) from General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE for testing and evaluation.49 A full-rate production decision is planned for the third quarter of FY 2025.50

Airborne BCTs are the first IBCTs to receive a new platform, the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV), to increase their speed and mobility. The GMV provides enhanced tactical mobility for an IBCT nine-soldier infantry squad with their associated equipment. The first GMVs were delivered in September 2018.51 The Army has approved “a procurement objective of 11 IBCT sets at 59 vehicles per IBCT (649 vehicles) to be completed by FY 2024.”52

Combat Aviation Brigade. Combat Aviation Brigades are composed of AH-64 Apache attack, UH-60 Black Hawk medium-lift, and CH-47 heavy-lift Chinook helicopters. The Army has been methodically upgrading these fleets for decades.

The H-60 medium-lift helicopter acquisition objective is 2,135, which is planned to be filled by 1,375 H-60M and 760 recapitalized 60-A/L/V aircraft. The FY 2021 procurement request for the UH-60M is approximately $830.4 million, which will procure 36 aircraft (38 less than the 74 requested in FY 2020). With the FY 2021 procurement quantities, the Army will have procured 1,159 UH/HH-60Ms, or 54.2 percent of its acquisition objective of 2,135 for that aircraft.53

The CH-47F Chinook, a rebuilt variant of the Army’s CH-47D heavy-lift helicopter, has an acquisition objective of 550 aircraft and is expected to remain the Army’s heavy-lift helicopter for the next several decades, as there is no replacement on the horizon. The FY 2021 budget request of $229.6 million supports the procurement of seven aircraft, of which six will be MH-47G and one a CH-47F. With the FY 2021 procurement, the Army will have purchased 382 CH-47Fs, or 69 percent of its acquisition objective of 550.54

The AH-64E heavy attack helicopter has an acquisition objective of 812 aircraft, which is being satisfied by building new aircraft remanufacturing older AH-64 models. The FY 2021 procurement request of $961.5 million for remanufacturing and $69.2 million for new builds will buy 52 AH-64E aircraft. This means that the Army will have procured a total of 562 aircraft, or 69 percent of its acquisition objective of 812.55

Overall, the Army’s equipment inventory, while increasingly dated, is well maintained. Despite high usage in Afghanistan and Iraq, because the Army deliberately undertook a “reset” plan that Congress supported with supplemental funding, most Army vehicles are relatively “young” because recent remanufacture programs for the Abrams and Bradley vehicles have extended the service lives of both vehicles beyond FY 2028.56

In addition to the viability of today’s equipment, the military must look to the health of future equipment programs. Although future modernization programs are not current hard-power capabilities that can be applied against an enemy force today, they are a leading indicator of a service’s overall fitness for future sustained combat operations. In future years, the service may be able to engage an enemy but be forced to do so with aging equipment and no program in place to maintain viability or endurance in sustained operations.

The U.S. military services are continually assessing how best to stay a step ahead of competitors: whether to modernize the force today with currently available technology or wait to see what investments in research and development produce years down the road. Technologies mature and proliferate, becoming more accessible to a wider array of actors over time.

After years of a singular focus on counterinsurgency due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by a concentration on the readiness of the force, the Army is now playing catch-up in the area of equipment modernization. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford has stated that “[t]he U.S. military advantage over near-peer competitors is eroding,”57 and nowhere is that more apparent than when examining U.S. Army equipment.

When the M-1 Abrams was introduced in 1980, for example, it was indisputably the world’s best tank. Now, in 2020, Russia is beginning the process to export their T-14 Armata tank, which has an unmanned turret, reinforced frontal armor, an information management system that controls all elements of the tank, a circular Doppler radar, an option for a 155mm gun, and 360-degree ultraviolet high-definition cameras. The M-1 remains a great tank, but the decisive advantage that the U.S. once enjoyed has disappeared.58

The Army established a new four-star headquarters, Army Futures Command, to manage modernization, achieving full operational capability in July 2019.59 Additionally, the Army established eight cross-functional teams (CFTs) to improvement the management of its top modernization priorities.60 Army leadership—in particular the Under Secretary and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army—are devoting an extraordinary amount of time to issues of equipment modernization, but only time will tell whether the new structures, commands, and emphasis will result in long-term improvement in modernization posture. The Army aspires to develop and procure an entire new generation of equipment based on its six new modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, a next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality.

Although the Army has put in place new organizations, plans, and strategies to manage modernization, the future is uncertain. The Army has shown great willingness to make tough choices and reallocate funding toward its modernization programs. For the program years FY 2020–FY 2024, the service moved $33 billion around to fund its six modernization priorities.61 Some are predicting that the COVID-19 pandemic, along with accompanying concerns about the federal debt, might create conditions that restrain future DOD budget growth. Still others point to the impending November 2020 election and predict that a change in Administrations could also portend a budget downturn. Formidable DOD budget challenges in the next five years include bills for nuclear deterrence programs, rising personnel costs, health care, and the need to invest in programs to respond to China’s increasingly aggressive activities. The Army desperately needs time and funding to modernize its inventory of equipment.

The Army’s principal modernization programs are not currently encumbered by any major problems, but there is justifiable concern about past difficulties and current status. Cancellation of the OMFV program in January 2020 was an ominous sign that the Army has not shaken off past acquisition management issues. It also probably resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of Army buying power. Many new research and development programs have been initiated with an extraordinary amount of publicity, excitement, and oversight. Only time will tell whether this enthusiasm is well-founded.


The Army has made considerable progress in increasing the readiness of its forces. Its goal is to have 66 percent of the Regular Army and 33 percent of National Guard BCTs at the highest levels of readiness. In March 2020, Secretary McCarthy and General McConville reported that “74 percent of Active Component Brigade Combat Teams have been at the highest levels of tactical readiness.”62 This means that 23 of the Army’s 31 active BCTs were at either C1 or C2, the two highest levels of tactical readiness, and ready to perform all or most of their wartime missions immediately.63 This is double the number of ready active BCTs compared to 2017. Army leaders have also said that “nearly half” of the Army’s 58 BCTs “are at the highest levels of readiness.”64 Since we know that 23 active component BCTs are at the highest levels of readiness, we can infer that four to five of the 27 National Guard BCTs probably are as well.

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As part of the $712.6 billion provided for defense overall in the FY 2020 defense appropriations bill, Congress provided much-needed relief to the Army by appropriating approximately $180 billion. This influx of resources, combined with on-time funding, has had a very positive effect on the rebuilding of readiness.65

In the FY 2021 budget request, training activities are relatively well resourced. When measuring training resourcing, the Army uses operating tempo full-spectrum training miles and flying hours, which reflect the number of miles that formations are resourced to drive their primary vehicles on an annual basis and the number of hours that aviators can fly their helicopters per month.66 According to the Army’s budget justification exhibits, “[t]he FY 2021 budget funds 1,598 Operating Tempo Full Spectrum Training Miles (OTFSTM) and 10.8 flying hours per crew, per month” to meet “required training readiness levels.”67 The OTFSTM is higher than resourced levels of 1,549 miles and lower than the 11.6 flying hours enacted in the FY 2020 budget.68

The Army reports broadly increasing readiness across all units. Part of this improvement is due to the Army’s success in reducing the percentage of soldiers who are nondeployable. Nonetheless, structural readiness problems evidenced by too small a force attempting to satisfy too many global presence requirements and Operations Plan (OPLAN) warfighting requirements will continue to challenge the Army.

As part of its Sustainable Readiness Model (SRM),69 the Army uses Combat Training Centers (CTCs) to train its forces to desired levels of proficiency. The CTC program’s mission is to “provide realistic joint and combined arms training…approximating actual combat” and increase “unit readiness for deployment and warfighting.”70 The Army requested resources for 24 CTC rotations in FY 2021, including four for the Army National Guard.71

Scoring the U.S. Army

Capacity Score: Weak

Historical evidence shows that, on average, the Army needs 21 Brigade Combat Teams to fight one major regional conflict (MRC). Based on a conversion of roughly 3.5 BCTs per division, the Army deployed 21 BCTs in Korea, 25 in Vietnam, 14 in the Persian Gulf War, and around four in Operation Iraqi Freedom—an average of 16 BCTs (or 21 if the much smaller Operation Iraqi Freedom initial invasion operation is excluded). In the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Obama Administration recommended a force capable of deploying 45 Active BCTs. Previous government force-sizing documents discuss Army force structure in terms of divisions and consistently advocate for 10–11 divisions, which equates to roughly 37 Active BCTs.

Considering the varying recommendations of 35–45 BCTs and the actual experience of nearly 21 BCTs deployed per major engagement, our assessment is that 42 BCTs would be needed to fight two MRCs.72 Taking into account the need for a strategic reserve, the Army force should also include an additional 20 percent of the 42 BCTs.

Because of the investment the Army has made in National Guard readiness with the provision of extra training days and four CTC rotations, this Index counts four additional ARNG BCTs in the Army’s overall BCT count, giving the service 35 (31 Regular Army plus four ARNG), but 35 is still not enough to meet the two-MRC construct. The Army’s overall capacity score therefore remains unchanged from 2020.

  • Two-MRC Benchmark: 50 Brigade Combat Teams.
  • Actual Projected 2020 Level: 35 (31 Regular Army plus four ARNG) Brigade Combat Teams.

The Army’s current BCT capacity meets 70 percent of the two-MRC benchmark and thus is scored as “weak.”

Capability Score: Marginal

The Army’s aggregate capability score remains “marginal.” This aggregate score is a result of “marginal” scores for “Age of Equipment,” “Size of Modernization Programs,” and “Health of Modernization Programs.” More detail on these programs can be found in the equipment appendix following this section. The Army scored “weak” for “Capability of Equipment.”

In spite of modest progress with the JLTV and AMPV, and in spite of such promising developments as creation of Army Futures Command, CFTs, and the initiation of new Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDTE) funded programs, new Army equipment programs remain in the development phase and in most cases are two to three years from entering procurement phases. Thus, they are not yet replacing legacy platforms and cannot contribute to warfighting capability today—which is what this Index measures. These planned procurements are highly sensitive to any turbulence or reduction in funding.

Readiness Score: Very Strong

As noted, the Army has said that “nearly half” of its 58 BCTs “are at the highest levels of readiness.”73 Four to five of those BCTs are National Guard Brigades that have benefited from the Army’s efforts to focus personnel, equipment, and training on those units, and 23 are Regular Army BCTs out of 31 that are ready (74 percent). The Army’s internal requirement for Active BCT readiness is 66 percent, or 20.5 BCTs ready. Using the assessment methods of this Index, this results in a percentage of service requirement of 100 percent, or “very strong.”

Overall U.S. Army Score: Marginal

The Army’s overall score is calculated based on an unweighted average of its capacity, capability, and readiness scores. The unweighted average is 3.33; thus, the overall Army score is “marginal.” This was derived from the aggregate score for capacity (“weak”); capability (“marginal”); and readiness (“very strong”). This score is the same as the assessment of the 2020 Index, which also rated the Army as “marginal.”

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  1. Testimony of General James McConville, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, in Congressional Quarterly, “House Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on the Fiscal 2021 Budget Request for the Army,” CQ Congressional Transcripts, March 3, 2020, https://plus.cq.com/alertmatch/434900672?0&deliveryId=57664418&uid=congressionaltranscripts-5851233&utm_medium=alertemail&utm_source=%E2%80%A6 (accessed July 6, 2020).
  2. Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory, “Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19,” Air Force Magazine, June 30, 2020, https://www.airforcemag.com/snapshot-dod-and-covid-19/ (accessed July 4, 2020). The same source reports that “DOD on April 16 transitioned from reporting current cases to reporting cumulative ones, stating that it believes the latter ‘more accurately reflects the effects of COVID-19 to our force’ and pledging to ‘continue to refine’ its reporting.”
  3. Christopher Woody, “Amid Coronavirus, US Is Trying to ‘Squeeze’ What It Can from the Army’s Largest European Exercise in 25 Years,” Business Insider, April 17, 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/us-military-trying-to-benefit-from-defender-europe-amid-coronavirus-2020-4 (accessed July 4, 2020).
  4. National Security Strategy of the United States of America, The White House, December 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf (accessed July 11, 2020).
  5. James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge, U.S. Department of Defense, https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf (accessed July 11, 2020).
  6. Ibid., p. 1.
  7. S. 365, Budget Control Act of 2011, Public Law 112-25, 112th Cong., August 2, 2011, https://www.congress.gov/112/plaws/publ25/PLAW-112publ25.pdf (accessed July 6, 2020).
  8. Tim Hains, “Mattis: No Enemy Has Done More Damage to U.S. Military than the Congressional Budget Sequester,” RealClearPolitics, February 6, 2018, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/02/06/mattis_no_enemy_has_done_more_damage_to_military_than_budget_sequester.html (accessed May 12, 2020).
  9. Aaron Mehta, “DoD Needs 3–5 Percent Annual Growth Through 2023, Top Officials Say,” Defense News, June 13, 2017, https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2017/06/13/dod-needs-3-5-percent-annual-growth-through-2023-top-officials-say/ (accessed July 4, 2020), and Paul Mcleary, “Flatline: SecDef Esper Says DoD Budgets Must Grow 3–5%,” Breaking Defense, February 6, 2020, https://breakingdefense.com/2020/02/flatline-secdef-esper-says-dod-budgets-must-grow-3-5/ (accessed July 4, 2020). “Real” growth means that the growth is in addition to inflation. As an example, if inflation equals 2 percent in a given year, real growth of 3 percent would equal 5 percent net growth.
  10. Major General Paul A. Chamberlain, Director, Army Budget, “Winning Matters: Army Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Overview,” U.S. Army, February 10, 2020, p. 5, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2021/pbr/Overview%20and%20Highlights/Army_FY_2021_Budget_Overview.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  11. Congressional Quarterly, “House Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on the Fiscal 2021 Budget Request for the Army,” March 3, 2020.
  12. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-96, Brigade Combat Team, October 2015, https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/fm3_96.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  13. U.S. Department of Defense, Inspector General, Audit of Brigade Combat Team Readiness, Report No. DODIG-2020-028, November 18, 2019, pp. 1–2, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Nov/20/2002214021/-1/-1/1/DODIG-2020-028.PDF (accessed July 4, 2020).
  14. AUSA Staff, “Army Brigade Combat Teams Are Reduced from 45 to 33,” Association of the United States Army, August 1, 2013, https://www.ausa.org/articles/army-brigade-combat-teams-are-reduced-45-33 (accessed July 10, 2020).
  15. Meghann Myers, “Army Chief: Operational Units Will Be Manned to 105 Percent by Next Year,” Army Times, January 16, 2019, https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2019/01/16/army-chief-operational-units-will-be-manned-to-105-percent-by-next-year/ (accessed May 7, 2020).
  16. Andrew Feickert, “Army Drawdown and Restructuring: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees of Congress, February 28, 2014, p. 18, https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42493.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  17. The 42 percent estimate is based on a review of historical figures as referenced in U.S. Government Accountability Office, Army Planning: Comprehensive Risk Assessment Needed for Planned Changes to the Army’s Force Structure, GAO–16–327, April 2016, p. 13, http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/676516.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  18. U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028, TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-3-1, December 6, 2018, https://www.tradoc.army.mil/Portals/14/Documents/MDO/TP525-3-1_30Nov2018.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020). For more on the Multi-Domain Operations concept, see Thomas W. Spoehr, “Rebuilding America’s Military Project: The United States Army,” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 215, August 22, 2019, https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/rebuilding-americas-military-project-the-united-states-army.
  19. Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s AimPoint Force Structure Initiative,” Congressional Research Service In Focus No. 11542, May 8, 2020, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11542 (accessed July 4, 2020).
  20. Todd South, “The Next Army SFAB Deployments Might Look a Whole Lot Different from Recent Ones,” Army Times, May 8, 2019, https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2019/05/08/the-next-army-sfab-deployments-might-look-a-whole-lot-different-from-recent-ones/ (accessed July 4, 2020).
  21. Sean Kimmons, “Latest SFAB Activates, Prepares for Afghanistan Mission,” U.S. Army, April 28, 2020, https://www.army.mil/article/235048/latest_sfab_activates_prepares_for_afghanistan_mission (accessed July 4, 2020).
  22. Chamberlain, “Winning Matters: Army Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Overview,” p. 8.
  23. Congressional Quarterly, “Senate Appropriations Committee—As Released by the U.S. Congress,” CQ Congressional Transcripts, Revised Final, June 7, 2017, https://plus.cq.com/doc/congressionaltranscripts-5840603?12 (accessed July 5, 2020).
  24. “Senate Armed Services Committee, Advance Policy Questions for Ryan McCarthy, Nominee for Appointment to be Secretary of the Army,” September 12, 2019, p. 7, https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/McCarthy_APQs_09-12-19.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  25. “Senate Armed Services Committee, Advance Policy Questions for General James McConville, USA, Nominee for Appointment to be Chief of Staff of the Army,” May 2, 2019, p. 19, https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/McConville_APQs_04-02-19.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  26. “McCarthy Promises Continued Focus on Soldiers, Reform,” Association of the U.S. Army, September 12, 2019, https://www.ausa.org/news/mccarthy-promises-continued-focus-soldiers-reform (accessed July 4, 2020).
  27. Table, “Department of Defense Active Duty Military Personnel by Rank/Grade,” in Defense Manpower Data Center, “DoD Personnel, Workforce Reports & Publications: Military Personnel: Active Duty Military Personnel by Service by Rank/Grade (Updated Monthly),” March 31, 2020, https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/dwp/dwp_reports.jsp (accessed July 4, 2020).
  28. Table, “FY 2021 PB—Military End Strength,” in U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller/CFO), US Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request, February 2020, p. 13, https://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2021/fy2021_Budget_Request.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  29. Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States, Providing for the Common Defense: The Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission, pp. 35–36, https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/providing-for-the-common-defense.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020). Emphasis in original. The commission’s report is undated but was released in November 2018. Press release, “National Defense Strategy Commission Releases Its Review of 2018 National Defense Strategy,” United States Institute of Peace, November 13, 2018, https://www.usip.org/press/2018/11/national-defense-strategy-commission-releases-its-review-2018-national-defense (accessed July 4, 2020).
  30. Boost Labs, “The U.S. Army: Then & Now,” https://www.boostlabs.com/portfolio/u-s-army-now/ (accessed July 4, 2020).
  31. Congressional Quarterly, “House Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on the Fiscal 2021 Budget Request for the Army,” March 3, 2020.
  32. See Andrew Gregory, “Maintaining a Deep Bench: Why Armored BCT Rotations in Europe and Korea Are Best for America’s Global Security Requirements,” Modern War Institute at West Point, July 31, 2017, https://mwi.usma.edu/maintaining-deep-bench-armored-bct-rotations-europe-korea-best-americas-global-security-requirements/ (accessed July 4, 2020), and Daniel Kochis and Thomas Spoehr, “It’s Time to Move US Forces Back to Europe,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, September 15, 2017, https://www.heritage.org/defense/commentary/its-time-move-us-forces-back-europe.
  33. Chamberlain, “Winning Matters: Army Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Overview,” p. 11.
  34. “Senate Armed Services Committee, Advance Policy Questions for Ryan McCarthy, Nominee for Appointment to be Secretary of the Army,” p. 9.
  35. Kris Osborn, “Outranged: New Army Artillery Doubles Ranges—Outguns Russian Equivalent,” The National Interest, December 12, 2018, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/outranged-new-army-artillery-doubles-ranges-outguns-russian-equivalent-38587 (accessed July 4, 2020).
  36. John Gordon IV, John Matsumura, Anthony Atler, Scott Boston, Matthew E. Boyer, Natasha Lander, and Todd Nichols, “Comparing U.S. Army Systems with Foreign Counterparts: Identifying Possible Capability Gaps and Insights from Other Armies,” RAND Corporation Research Report, 2015, pp. 19–22, https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR700/RR716/RAND_RR716.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  37. Dan Gouré, “The U.S. Army Is Moving Forward Smartly on Advanced Long-Range Artillery,” RealClearDefense, January 16, 2020, https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2020/01/16/the_us_army_is_moving_forward_smartly_on_advanced_long-range_artillery_114980.html (accessed July 4, 2020).
  38. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-96, Brigade Combat Team, p. 1-10.
  39. Table 5, “ABCT Allocations,” in Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s M-1 Abrams, M-2/M-3 Bradley, and M-1126 Stryker: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees of Congress, April 5, 2016, p. 13, https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R44229.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020), and Dan Goure, “Meet the Army’s ‘New’ M1 Abrams Tank: The Best on the Planet?,” The National Interest, June 16, 2019, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/meet-armys-new-m1-abrams-tank-best-planet-62862 (accessed July 4, 2020).
  40. Andrew Feickert, “The Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) Program: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service Report for Members and Committees of Congress, updated April 16, 2020, pp. 12–13, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R45519.pdf (accessed May 8, 2020).
  41. Matthew Cox, “Army Studying Whether M1 Tank Replacement Should Be Driver-Optional,” Military.com, September 4, 2019, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/04/army-studying-whether-m1-tank-replacement-should-be-driver-optional.html (accessed July 4, 2020).
  42. Jen Judson, “Struggles with BAE Production Lines Produce Low-Hanging Fruit for Funding Cuts in FY21,” Defense News, February 13, 2020, https://www.defensenews.com/smr/federal-budget/2020/02/13/struggles-with-bae-production-lines-produce-low-hanging-fruit-for-funding-cuts-in-fy21/ (accessed July 4, 2020).
  43. Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 2021 Army,” P-1 Line Item Number 2944G80819 / Armored Multi Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Army: Justification Book of Procurement of W&TCV, Army, February 2020, pp. 2–3, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2021/Base%20Budget/Procurement/WTCV_FY_2021_PB_Procurement_of_Weapons_and_Tracked_Combat_Vehicles.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  44. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-96, Brigade Combat Team, p. 1-6.
  45. Kyle Rempfer, “New Upgunned Stryker Arrives in Europe,” Army Times, December 19, 2017, https://www.armytimes.com/news/2017/12/19/new-upgunned-stryker-arrives-in-europe/ (accessed July 4, 2020).
  46. Ashley Roque, “Covid-19: US Army Extends Up-gunned Stryker Competition Again,” Janes, April 10, 2020, https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/covid-19-us-army-extends-up-gunned-stryker-competition-again (accessed July 4, 2020).
  47. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Field Manual 3-96, Brigade Combat Team, p. 1-1. Emphasis in original.
  48. Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 21 Army,” P-1 Line Item Number 5731D15610 / Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Family of Vehicles, in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Army: Justification Book of Other Procurement, Army, Tactical and Support Vehicles, Budget Activity 1, February 2020, pp. 52–53, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2021/Base%20Budget/Procurement/OPA_BA_1_FY_2021_PB_Other_Procurement_BA1_Tactical_and_Support_Vehicles.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  49. Jared Keller, “This Could Be the Army’s Next Light Tank of Choice,” Task & Purpose, April 24, 2020, https://taskandpurpose.com/military-tech/army-mobile-protected-firepower-general-dynamics-submission (accessed July 5, 2020).
  50. Exhibit R-2A, “RDT&E Project Justification: PB 2021 Army,” Project EV8 / Mobile Projected Firepower, in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Army: Justification Book of Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Army, RDT&E—Volume II, Budget Activity 5, February 2020, p. 245, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2021/Base%20Budget/rdte/RDTE_BA_5A_FY_2021_PB_RDTE_Vol%202_Budget_Activity_5A.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  51. APG News, “Army Ground Mobility Vehicles Program,” October 24, 2018, http://apgnews.com/community-news/news-briefs/army-ground-mobility-vehicles-program/ (accessed July 5, 2020).
  52. Exhibit R-2A, “RDT&E Project Justification: PB 2021 Army,” Project E40 / LTV Prototype, in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Army: Justification Book of Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Army, RDT&E—Volume II, Budget Activity 5, p. 234.
  53. Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 21 Army,” P-1 Line Item Number 6771AA0005 / UH-60 Blackhawk M Model (MYP), in U.S. Department of the Army, Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Army: Justification Book of Aircraft Procurement, Army, February 2020, p. 46, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2021/Base%20Budget/Procurement/ACFT_FY_2021_PB_Aircraft_Procurement_Army.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  54. Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 21 Army,” P-1 Line Item Number 6775A05101 / CH-47 Helicopter, in ibid., pp. 65–67.
  55. Exhibit P-40, “Budget Line Item Justification: PB 21 Army,” P-1 Line Item Number 5757A05111 / AH-64 Apache Block IIIA Reman and P-1 Line Item Number 5840A05133 / AH-64 Apache Block IIIB New Build, in ibid., pp. 16–31.
  56. Feickert, “The Army’s M-1 Abrams, M-2/M-3 Bradley, and M-1126 Stryker,” p. 15.
  57. Jim Garamone, “Dunford: U.S. Military Advantage over Russia, China Eroding,” U.S. Department of Defense, November 16, 2017, https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/1374168/dunford-us-military-advantage-over-russia-china-eroding/ (accessed July 5, 2020).
  58. Roger McDermott, “Modernizing Russia’s Tanks: The Case of the T-14 Armata,” Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol. 17, Issue 63 (May 6, 2020), https://jamestown.org/program/modernizing-russias-tanks-the-case-of-the-t-14-armata/ (accessed July 5, 2020).
  59. Sean Kimmons, “In First Year, Futures Command Grows from 12 to 24,000 Personnel,” U.S. Army, July 22, 2019, https://www.army.mil/article/224744/in_first_year_futures_command_grows_from_12_to_24000_personnel (accessed July 5, 2020).
  60. U.S. Army, “2019 U.S. Army Modernization Strategy: Investing in the Future,” released October 2019, pp. 1, 6, and 7, https://www.army.mil/e2/downloads/rv7/2019_army_modernization_strategy_final.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  61. Ibid, pp. 2 and 10.
  62. The Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, and General James P. McConville, Chief of Staff, United States Army, statement “On the Posture of the United States Army” before the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, March 26, 2020, p. 4, https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/McCarthy--McConville_03-26-20.pdf (accessed July 4, 2020).
  63. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Army Regulation 220-1, “Army Unit Status Reporting and Force Registration—Consolidated Policies,” April 15, 2010, p. 16, https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/r220_1.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  64. Congressional Quarterly, “House Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on the Fiscal 2021 Budget Request for the Army,” March 3, 2020.
  65. Chamberlain, “Winning Matters: Army Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Overview,” p. 5.
  66. G3/5/7 for STAND-TO!, “OPTEMPO and Full-Spectrum Operations Training,” U.S. Army, January 26, 2011, https://www.army.mil/article/50883/optempo_and_full_spectrum_operations_training (accessed July 5, 2020).
  67. U.S. Department of the Army, Department of the Army Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, Volume 1, Operation and Maintenance, Army: Justification of Estimates, February 2020, p. 2, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2021/Base%20Budget/Operation%20and%20Maintenance/OMA_VOL_1_FY_2021_PB_Army_Volume_1.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  68. U.S. Department of the Army, Department of the Army Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget Estimates, Volume 1, Operation and Maintenance, Army: Justification of Estimates, March 2019, pp. 1 and 2, https://www.asafm.army.mil/Portals/72/Documents/BudgetMaterial/2020/Base%20Budget/Operation%20and%20Maintenance/01%20Army%20(OMA)%20Vol%201.pdf (accessed July 10, 2020).
  69. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Army Regulation 525-29, “Force Generation—Sustainable Readiness,” October 1, 2019, https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN9412_AR525_29_FINAL.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  70. Headquarters, Department of the Army, Army Regulation 350–50, “Combat Training Center Program,” May 2, 2018, p. 2, https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN8650_AR350_50_Final.pdf (accessed July 5, 2020).
  71. Chamberlain, “Winning Matters: Army Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Overview,” pp. 10 and 11.
  72. Note that the first figures derive from an average BCT size of 4,500 and average division size of 15,000. The second set of numbers derives from the current average of around 3.5 BCTs per division and analysis of the structure of each Army division.
  73. Congressional Quarterly, “House Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on the Fiscal 2021 Budget Request for the Army,” March 3, 2020.

U.S. Army Modernization Table Citations

General Sources

Program Sources



M113 APC:


AH-64D Apache:

UH-60A Black Hawk:

UH-60M Black Hawk:

CH-47D/F Chinook:

MQ-1C Gray Eagle: