Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently spoke at an AEI conference about the Army’s past ten years of acquisition, stating that it has essentially been “a lost decade.” He really was just poking Congress for adding back in to the defense budget things like Abrams upgrades that the Army and DoD don’t want. But he is leveraging a misconception caused by high-profile cancellations about what the Army actually bought in the last decade. This is a misconception that BFAD’s own Russell Rumbaugh laid to rest last fall. In his report, he pointed out:
- In the last 10 years, the Army has purchased two fleets of armored vehicles…Strykers and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs).
- The Army also has succeeded in upgrading its primary ground combat vehicles over the past decade…[and] ‘the Bradley A3 will maintain overmatch over current and future threat forces and complements the M1A2 Abrams.'
- The Army dramatically increased its stocks of small arms…in FY01, the Army intended to buy 140,309 of its newest rifle…by the FY12 budget justification, that plan had grown to 658,606 rifles
- The same modernization process had taken place for Army support vehicles…[the Army] set out on an significantly enlarged program to acquire Humvees, buying an additional 74,000 of the most modernized version.
Although Secretary Carter is right that the Army cancelled many next-generation programs, the last ten years resulted in serious enhancements and upgrades. In the end, “the Army almost unintentionally acquired a fully modernized force.”