1. Smaller Army Budget
The $715 billion defense budget for fiscal 2022 allocates $173 billion for the Army, a $3.6 billion reduction that preserves funding for military personnel but cuts money for procurement, research, development, testing and evaluation. The budget does continue the Army’s modernization priorities, with leaders pledging they are “committed to seeing them through completion.”
Lawmakers have warned late delivery of the budget makes it very difficult for Congress to pass policy and funding bills by the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. The short time for debate could also reduce opportunities for Army leaders to ask for budget increases.
2. ID Card Extensions
Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers, retirees and dependents whose military identification cards expire between Jan. 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021, will be getting more time to renew. IDs that expired before Jan. 1, 2020, have not been extended, while cards that expire after July 31, 2021, must be replaced by their expiration date.
Deadlines vary by category. Dependents of active-duty troops, and reserve component soldiers and their families now have until Oct. 31, 2021. Retirees and their dependents have until Jan. 31, 2022, according to DoD.
3. Food Bonding
Better food, more locations and easier payment methods are part of an Army-wide effort to modernize dining facilities. Part of this is embracing new recipes and more options. This could also mean extended hours and using food trucks and kiosks.
Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, deputy Army chief of staff for logistics, said the changes are about more than food. He wants dining facilities to be “places to eat, socialize and bond as a unit.”
4. Arlington Expansion
A planned 37-acre expansion will provide room for 80,000 burials at Arlington National Cemetery, Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera told Congress. The fully funded southern expansion will have a contract awarded in 2022 and a projected completion in 2027.
The additional space isn’t enough to avoid more restrictive eligibility policies. A final rule is being prepared that will be announced this fall. The combination of extra space and eligibility restrictions allows the cemetery to be active for 150 years, she said.
5. History-Making Army Secretary
Christine Wormuth recently became the 25th Army secretary, making her the first woman to serve as the Army’s top civilian leader. An experienced national security expert, Wormuth has previously served as undersecretary of defense for policy.
Wormuth has pledged to be a “hands-on” leader who will take care of people while making sure the Army has what it needs to fulfill its mission. “I will be the strongest possible advocate for the Army inside the Pentagon and out,” she said during the confirmation process.