McCarthy: COVID-19 forcing Army to take closer look at divestitures

By Ashley Tressel / October 7, 2020 at 2:23 PM

The Army's resources are under added strain from the novel coronavirus pandemic, for which the service has incurred "a tremendous amount of debt," Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said today.

"How do we deal with this going forward*" McCarthy said during a virtual Hudson Institute discussion. "We're looking very hard at that; we're talking to economists; we're talking to a lot of people to help us look through the assumptions. But if you have a flat fiscal environment, there's nowhere else to go but to cut internally."

Meanwhile, the Army is working on a regionally focused deployment model to help decide where to send future systems being developed as modernization priority efforts, as the service deals with the growing demand created by the pandemic.

"The rearm model is going to try to help us bring predictability to the system," he said. "We're bringing on all these weapon systems, and they're already starting to land into our formations. If we don't put this in place, we're just going to say, 'Who's available*' and [they'll] get [the equipment], so there'll be no logic behind it. So we had to go to this model."

The Army last fall lauded the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team's rapid fielding of the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular, which the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division took with them when they deployed to Korea.

The ENVG-B was the first new system to deploy under the service's soldier lethality modernization priority.

Now that more of these future systems are in the works, the Army is seeking to be more economical with where it sends its weapons so it can get the biggest bang for its buck, according to McCarthy.

"It changes a cultural dynamic in the Pentagon, because the Army, we're always there -- we're in Detroit, we're in Baghdad, we're everywhere," he said. "Now, we're trying to put some left and right limits to that, because we have to bring on all these new weapon systems. We make $40 billion of investments a year, we have to make sure we get maximum yield of these dollars. That's what bringing that [model] forward does -- it helps us from a modernization standpoint, it helps us with predictability in deployments. What it does also for combatant commander[s], it helps us communicate with them, 'Here's what we have available.' Now, you have a crisis, we'll break something and we'll help you -- but only in a crisis. It helps everybody get more of a sense to forecast appropriately and help us do some institutional things and still meet some national objectives outside the continental borders."