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Military Connection: Army Wants to Slow Drawdown

Army to slow force size reduction

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Army is now looking into measures to slow the drawdown, though the military branch still intends to reach its planned force size of 450,000 active duty personnel.

The Army is currently slated to cut approximately 20,000 soldiers every year to reach the target number by the end of fiscal 2017. If on schedule, the Army is expected to reach a force size of 490,000 by the end of fiscal 2015. But new discussions have Army leaders talking about avoiding sequestration in 2016, and moving the timeline back by one year.

With that said, Army leadership does not have the ability to make this decision on its own. Congress must approve what would amount to a personnel increase for fiscal years 2016-2018. Right now, Army brass is considering what options to present to Congress.

Soldiers should not breathe a sigh of relief about their jobs security just yet. While a year-long pause in sequestration would improve the Army’s flexibility, should a greater force size than 450,000 be needed, that number is still locked in for the long term.

The Army sees altering its drawdown plan as a necessary measure. Commanders estimate that only 36% of the Army’s units are adequately prepared to deploy in response to a world crisis. The Army wants to have 65%-70% of its units mission-ready and available for rapid deployment, if necessary. If their force sizes continue to decrease, it will only hurt Army readiness even further, as cuts are generally being made in the middle and upper-middle levels of the officer and enlisted ranks.

Under sequestration, the Army could be forced to shrink to 420,000 soldiers.

An active duty end-strength of 450,000 personnel would generate challenges in manning and readiness, but there is a belief that sequestration could eventually impose an Army force size of just 420,000. Part of this move to delay the drawdown could also be seen as defense against an ending force strength of 420,000, which many around the Pentagon believe to be too small for ideal national security.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army To See More Cuts in 2015: By Debbie Gregory

Army soldiers

Last Sunday’s ceremony in Kabul marked the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, and subsequently, the war itself for the U.S. military. But there are no parades to celebrate the end of the war or the American service members who fought in it. Instead, military personnel are facing more draw downs and force reductions, starting with the Army.

Every military branch bulked up their numbers during the height of the War on Terror. After the war in Iraq ended in 2011, the Pentagon began devising strategies for each branch to individually reduce its force size. Initially, the Army was slated to complete its reductions in order to end up with a force of 490,000 by 2018.

Army leadership began a pro-active approach, beginning three years ago, by offering incentives for early retirement to senior enlisted and officers with over 16 years of active duty. The Army also began to involuntarily separate those individuals who would have difficulty being promoted again before their separation time. The bulk of the cuts effect the upper-middle ranks of the officer and non-commissioned officers.

For 2014, the Army offered a one-time screening for involuntary separation and early retirement, which included majors in year groups 1999 through 2003, and captains in year groups 2006 through 2008. The results of those boards determined that 550 majors and 1,144 captains would be separated from active duty. A similar screening is tentatively scheduled for Army captains in fall of 2015.

Using their proactive approach, the Army has been able to cut 62,000 personnel since the draw down began three years ago. The Army finished Fiscal year 2014 with 508,000 active duty personnel, just 18,000 members over their 2018 target force size.

But sequestration and financial pressures on the DOD have pushed up that target to the end of fiscal 2015, while also calling for an additional cut of 40,000 in both 2016 and 2017. There is also the possibility of further cuts of 10,000 to 20,000 by the end of the decade.

Another round of Selective Early Retirement Boards met in November, 2014, to consider separating colonels with dates of rank of August 2, 2008, through November 12, 2010, and lieutenant colonels who have been passed over for promotion to colonel two or more times. The results of the screening are pending approval by the secretary of the Army.

A similar force reduction method, called the Qualitative Service Program (QSP), was also used last year to identify approximately 1,000 enlisted soldiers for separation and early retirement. QSP boards will be used again in 2015 to trim the ranks of military occupational specialties that are over-strength, or that have limited promotion opportunity.

The first of the 2015 QSP boards will occur February 10th through March 6th, in conjunction with annual Regular Army and Active Guard and Reserve (Army Reserve) master sergeant board.

Other QSP boards in 2015:

  • The nominative command sergeant major and key billet sergeant major board that meets June 15-19 will screen command sergeants major and sergeants major for retention.
  • The sergeant first class promotion board that meets June 2ndthrough July 2ndwill screen staff sergeants for retention.
  • The sergeant major training and selection board that meets September 9-25 will screen master sergeants and first sergeants for retention.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army To See More Cuts in 2015: By Debbie Gregory