Secretary of the Army Mark Esper kicked off AUSA’s annual meeting with an announcement that he will cut on the “low-end” $25 billion in existing programs to funnel toward the Army’s six modernization priorities over the course of the five-year Future Years Defense Program. In a press briefing, he declined to elaborate on the specifics of his “nickel and diming,” but said “most of the savings are principally found in the [equipping] peg.” More details will be released in February once the proposed budget is cleared through the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The cuts were the result of a rigorous “comb through” over the course of 40 to 60 hours with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Esper said. They went “program by program, activity by activity to look at each one and assess it and ask ourselves is this more important than a Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, is this more important than a squad automatic weapon, is this more important than Long-Range Precision Fires,” several of the six modernization priorities that the Army announced at AUSA a year ago.