By Debbie Gregory.
The Army is juggling global operations as it continues to deal with the lowest troop levels since before World War II.
In March, the Army has had approximately 2,600 soldiers depart active service without being replaced, leaving the end strength at 479,172 soldiers. The Army’s reserve forces total 548,024 soldiers, (348,463 soldiers in the Army National Guard and 199,561 with the Army Reserve) for a total force of 1,027,196 soldiers.
The number of women serving on active duty April 1 stood at 69,171, a total that includes 15,654 officers, 52,698 enlisted soldiers and 819 West Point cadets.
The female population of the Regular Army was reduced by 340 members in March.
During the past year, the size of the active force has been reduced by 16,548 soldiers.
The Army is on track to achieve, or exceed, the budgeted end-strength of 475,000 soldiers by the end of September.
The drawdown is expected to continue for two additional years, with an end-strength goal 460,000 soldiers in 2017, and 450,000 in 2018.
Rep. Chris Gibson, R-NY has introduced legislation to stop ongoing drawdowns for the Army and Marine Corps, potentially adding 55,000 soldiers back into Army plans. He argued the world is less safe than it was when the Obama administration announced the troop cuts, pointing to threats from the Islamic State group, Russia, China and North Korea.
The Army estimated its reductions of about 40,000 troops would save $7 billion over four years, officials said when they were announced in July. The reduced troop levels were attributed to mandatory spending caps under the 2011 Budget Control Act.
In a major war overseas, at 980,000 soldiers, the Army would not have enough troops to provide them with “dwell time,” the rotation home which has been common in recent conflicts.