The U.S. Army will reduce its civilian workforce and the regular Army because of federal military budget constraints, a move that will impact nearly every Army installation in the continental U.S. and internationally.
The Army will eliminate 17,000 civilian and 40,000 soldier positions. Currently, the Army has about 490,000 soldiers. That will drop to 450,000 as the Army works to readjust to starkly different budget realities and budget priorities, as well as shifting priorities in U.S. foreign policy.
The U.S. Defense Department announcement of this plan in July did not specify if the reductions would be made through attrition, layoffs, forced retirements, or buyouts.
“Budget constraints are forcing us to reduce the total Army,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Army deputy chief of staff, in a statement. “These were very difficult decisions to make as all of our installations and their communities offer tremendous value to our Army and the nation. In the end, we had to make decisions based on a number of strategic factors, to include readiness impacts, mission command and cost.”
The adjustment in soldier numbers will force the Army to reduce the number of regular Army brigade combat teams from a wartime high of 45 to 30 by the end of FY 2017. Some of the brigades will be converted into maneuver battalion task forces.
These cutbacks in force structure and soldiers will begin in FY 2016. The 40,000 soldier reduction will be finished by FY 2018, according to the Defense Department announcement.
The Army estimated that the elimination of the 17,000 civilian positions will also occur by the end of FY 2018.
In addition, if budget sequestration caps are not removed, the Army will eliminate 30,000 additional soldier positions by FY 2019. That will reduce the total number of Army soldiers to 420,000.
According to Defense Department figures, that means the Army will have lost 150,000 soldiers from the regular Army during a seven-year period.
“The resulting force would be incapable of simultaneously meeting current deployment requirements and responding to the overseas contingency requirements of the combatant commands,” the Defense Department stated.