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Efficiencies mean extra money to upgrade Army critical equipment

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Feb. 01, 2011) -- Money saved through an effort by the Department of Defense to trim a target $100 billion from military budgets will be used to modernize some Army capabilities.

Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli appeared on Capitol Hill, Jan. 26, before the first hearing of the House Armed Services Committee during the 112th Congress. The vice chief was called, along with Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III and the vice chiefs of sister services, to testify about Defense budget reductions and efficiencies.

Chiarelli told lawmakers that money the Army has found through investigating and identifying efficiencies is now being used to reinvest in programs like the M1 Abrams tank, the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Stryker.

"In Stryker, I think we're moving with a double-V hull," Chiarelli said. "We have been completing some testing and that testing has come out very satisfactory. We are pleased with it, and are moving ahead to provide additional protection for the entire crew of the Stryker -- above what we have right now with the flat-bottom hull -- with some of the add-on armor kits."

The general said the Army will be making improvements to both the Stryker and the Bradley.

The four military services were directed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to achieve $100 billion in efficiencies over the fiscal year 2012 to 2016 Future Years Defense Plan. The services would be allowed to retain and reinvest these efficiency savings in enhancements of their own high-priority war-fighting programs.

The Army found efficiencies through the consolidation of six Installation Management Command regions into four, for instance. Also, through portfolio reviews, the service determined it could terminate both the costly SLAMRAAM surface-to-air missile program and the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System.

"That came out of a portfolio we call air and missile defense," Chiarelli said. "When we looked at that portfolio, we saw we had some broken programs. One of the programs we had concern with was SLAMRAAM. The cost of that missile for SLAMRAAM had grown from $300,000 to I'm told over a million dollars a copy. (And) quite frankly we saw changes in the threat from the time that program had been conceived."

In addition to reinvesting in ground vehicles like the Stryker, savings are being applied to upgrade systems like the Patriot missile system and the Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar system.

"Quite frankly, counter rocket and counter mortar are the threats that are affecting our troops downrange today. So with over a billion dollars in SLAMRAAM savings, we were able to reinvest that in (C-RAM) and also in upgrading the Patriot," Chiarelli said.

Legislators were also concerned about the Army's needs regarding medical care to Soldiers. Chiarelli said the service is most concerned about uniformed health personnel.

"We made a decision in the Army a while ago to cap the number of uniformed military health care providers we had at a certain number and I need to find room inside my end strength to add some more," Chiarelli said. "It's just not enough. We've been able to make up that through contract health care in certain areas. But when it comes to areas like behavioral health care, I have a real problem there."

Chiarelli also told the committee members that the Army is done with Stop Loss -- the process where the Army keeps Soldiers on past their contracted end of service in order to keep units together for a deployment, for instance.

"We have not (used Stop Loss) for the last year and our last Soldier held up on Stop Loss, if my memory serves me correctly, will come off in March of this year," he said. "We have no desire to go back to Stop Loss and our Army Force Generation model has personnel aim points that we are implementing and will continue to implement, that will allow us to ensure that we avoid getting ourselves in a situation where we would have to use Stop Loss again."