US Army Plans for a New Network Are in Danger as the Service Faces an Extended Continuing Resolution Amid Hang-Ups in Congress
- The US Army, which is undergoing its largest modernization in decades, is facing the possibility of an extended continuing resolution as Congress struggles to pass a defense budget.
- In the event of a long-term continuing resolution, the service’s plans for advances in network technology would suffer a “significant impact,” Gen. John Murray, head of Army Futures Command, told Business Insider this week.
- A long-term continuing resolution would severely impact the Army’s ability to effectively deliver, develop, integrate, and assess important network-modernization efforts, an Army official told Business insider, explaining that the work being done is essential to providing commanders with secure, capable communications in contested environments.
- If Congress fails to pass a budget by the November 21 deadline, the Army, like the other services, could be looking at a six-month, possibly yearlong, continuing resolution, which could negatively affect more than $8.8 billion in Army funding.
The Army is pursuing an ambitious modernization plan, one that is heavily dependent on advances in network technology, but Congress’ inability to pass a budget and the threat of an extended continuing resolution are putting the service’s plans at risk.
“The network is a cross-cutting capability,” Gen. John Murray, the head of Army Futures Command, told Business Insider this week. “It would be a significant impact,” he said of the possibility of an extended continuing resolution.
The military has been suffering the effects of a short-term continuing resolution for the past few weeks, but if Congress fails to find a solution before the November 21 deadline, the armed forces would be restricted to the 2019 fiscal-year spending levels for six months, if not the entire fiscal year.
Under a yearlong continuing resolution, the military would be limited to last year’s $718 billion as allocated rather than receive the $738 billion in the 2020 fiscal-year request.
For the Army, which is undergoing its largest modernization in more than four decades, a continuing resolution could mean as much as $8.8 billion in funds for new start investments, production-rate increases, military construction, operations and maintenance, and personnel could be lost, Army documents obtained by Business Insider said.
A number of developmental programs, including the network, could be affected.
A long-term continuing resolution would severely impact the Army’s ability to effectively deliver, develop, integrate, and assess important network-modernization efforts, an Army official told Business insider, explaining that the work being done is essential to providing commanders with secure, capable communications in contested environments.
The Network Cross-Functional Team (N‑CFT) under Army Futures Command would lose the funding necessary to begin fielding a new network capability set in 2023 because the team’s experimentation efforts are new start investments.
A long-term continuing resolution would affect new capabilities such as low and medium Earth-orbit satellite capabilities, data management, new waveforms, command-post mobility, and network management, among other things.
Another potential effect is a limitation on the Army’s ability to field modernized radio equipment. Of particular concern is the HMS Manpack radio program, which could be limited to only $3.7 million of the 2020 fiscal-year request for $35.6 million under a 12-month continuing resolution. In this situation, operational testing in the 2020 fiscal year and fielding in the 2021 fiscal year could slip back.
An extended continuing resolution could also affect the procurement of Integrated Tactical Network communication-enhancement equipment, which was to go to four Brigade Combat Teams in the 2021 fiscal year. Under a continuing resolution, that delivery would probably slip several months, if not longer. “Without this equipment, the Army will be forced to delay resolving critical communication gaps, which currently exist in light infantry formations,” an Army official told Business Insider.
A continuing resolution would also leave plans for improvements to the Tactical Server Infrastructure, which supports mission-command applications, at only 26% of its 2020 fiscal-year appropriations, hindering procurement and fielding plans, leaving soldiers with bulky, vulnerable equipment. The extended continuing resolution would also affect cryptographic systems and network operations software.