There are some things that the Army can do right away that will increase readiness more than others, especially after the lessons every nation is quietly taking home from Ukraine.
First up, there is the valid criticism that a Stryker can’t take a hit. True statement, it was not designed to fight tanks, but given the upgrades in IFV firepower in the last several decades being 23mm protected isn’t worth spit when your enemy is 30mm minimum. So first up is Stryker Explosive Reactive Armor kits. 300k per kit, that’s 10 per 3 Million or 100 per 30 million, or 1000 per 300 million dollars, or 10,000 for 3 billion dollars. Since the total number of Stryker hulls was less than 5,000 (call it 5k even so we can share the purchase cost with the Canucks), for less than the cost of 12 F-35Bs the entire inventory of the US Army Stryker fleet (Active and Guard) could get ERA kits for better survivability. https://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htarm/20150228.aspx
Second up, give the Army some actual tactical EW equipment. http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/warfare/2015/08/02/us-army-ukraine-russia-electronic-warfare/30913397/ We know the Russians are serious about dominating the electromagnetic spectrum on the battlefield, so the US Army needs a mobile, armored EW system to pinpoint those enemy jammers and queue up a fire mission or attack. Between Thales, BAE, GD, Raytheon, LM, Rohde & Schwarz there are more than enough off the shelf solutions that can plug into a Bradley chassis or a Stryker Chassis or one of the new JLTV chassis just fine. Pick a system, pick three install kits (Bradley, Stryker, JLTV), and get’em out to the service. Call it 5 million dollars a pop to get them installed in the vehicles, 4 vehicles per 30 BCTs is 120 systems times 5 million a piece is 600 million to upgrade the entire Army, or about 5 F-35A models. I’m not including NG Brigades here because if need be each active Brigade could laterally transfer one system over so that NG BCTs would get supported by three when activated.
Third, bring back the Avenger systems to the BCT level for short range air defense (SHORAD) missions. Right now most Brigades have a 50 cal and harsh language for dealing with low flying aircraft. There needs to be a capability somewhere between Stinger and Patriot missiles, but that would cost too much money in todays budget fight with the F-35. This is essentially free for the Avengers, just pull ’em out of mothballs. The Bradley’s would require a reconfigure which would cost money to go back to the Linebacker model.
Fourth, lift the voluntary moratorium on submunitions. This is essentially free as it only requires the SECDEF to reverse guidance. Getting into an artillery fight with a modern opponent who hasn’t signed the submunition treaty without using submunitions yourself is like tying both hands behind your back. Stack’em deep, push the ammunition stockpiles way forward to Korea, Poland, and strategic reserves in Japan, Germany, and a munitions afloat mobile option one east coast one west coast.
Fifth. Ban Powerpoint. Seriously. It’s a free solution to the problem of briefing horrible data on pretty slides, making a generation of senior leaders effectively illiterate at processing data with their brain.
So there you have it, for the cost of less than 20 F-35s you can ERA upgrade every Stryker, put tactical ESM vehicles in every Brigade, give every Brigade a SHORAD capability (important in the era of everyone has drones), make the organic artillery better, and stop wasting time on Powerpoint. I’d say that’s quite the bargain for national defense.