As modernization budgets are squeezed, the Army might have to be more selective about which units receive the most advanced equipment, a top officer said June 13.

Personnel and readiness costs are eating up the vast majority of the service’s topline, leaving only 18 percent for modernization, noted Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, during a talk at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

“Fundamentally it’s a math problem,” he said. “We have begun to look at … how do we prioritize delivery of capability to a smaller number of units rather than trying to spread the peanut butter” across the force.

That could lead to trouble down the road if the United States comes into conflict with a high-tech adversary, the combat veteran and Silver Star recipient acknowledged.

“Should we get into a scenario where it’s a near peer or a competitor that requires a massive response from the United States military … you’re going to stand a chance that some of those forces will not be as adequately prepared and equipped as they should be,” Allyn said.

The service’s number two officer said the upside of such an equipping strategy is that the Army would not be as committed to gear that could have a relatively short shelf life.

“Technology is changing so fast that we think by the time you field a smaller set you’re going to be going after newer, more modern capability anyway, so [buying lower quantities] is less of problem then it may have been in the past,” he said.

The budget situation, which Allyn doesn’t expect to change in the foreseeable future, is also forcing the Army to target its limited modernization dollars.