10,000 Army officers on chopping block, Army official says

As the Army continues to reduce its total force to under a million regular, guard and reservists by 2018, the service is preparing to cut another 14,000 soldiers.

Of those 14,000 the Army needs to cut to reach its intended numbers, 10,000 will be officers, said Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army.

Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff, Army
Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff, Army

The Army has been planning to reduce its military personnel from 1.3 million to 980,000 since the release of the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review.

“With 186,000 deployed on a daily basis in 140 countries, you understand my discomfort with trying to continue to meet emergent demands and current operations with a force that is getting smaller,” Allyn said during a March 15 Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing.

The Army currently has 482,000 active-duty soldiers. That will be reduced to 475,000 by the end of fiscal 2016. The number will be further reduced to 450,000 by 2018.

Allyn said the soldiers who were cut in previous rounds of layoffs were highly seasoned.

“Over 50 percent of those we were asking to separate involuntarily had two or more combat deployments, so these are all soldiers that have answered the call of the nation; they have served admirably and because of the program force structure we must separate [from] them,” Allyn said.

Allyn told the subcommittee the Army is doing everything it can through its Soldier for Life program to provide them a seamless transition into civilian life.

The Army is also giving the Army Reserve and Army National Guard first dibs on hiring the laid off soldiers.

“It has really helped out reserve components save dollars by taking experienced soldiers into the ranks and not having to retrain them, so that has been a positive benefit of this unfortunate drawdown,” Allyn said.

Despite some critics’ skepticism of the drawdown, a congressionally mandated panel found the 450,000 active-duty troop level to be an acceptable minimum.

“We were given specific parameters in our authorization to look at anticipated future resources and current resources versus an acceptable risk. Yeah, we’re worried, but given the resources we had we don’t see those numbers going up. We don’t have the money to increase the number of our soldiers,” Future of the Army Commission Vice Chairman Thomas Lamont told Federal News Radio.

Sequestration biggest threat to readiness, military leaders say

As the Army worries about its troop levels, representatives from each of the military branches told the subcommittee sequestration was the biggest threat to the nation’s military readiness.

“We must have sustainable and predictable and sustained funding,” Allyn said.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard said the ripple effect of sequestration is felt through the years.

“Having a stable budget, being able to procure and maintain our ships with certainty allows us to maintain and ready fleet,” Howard said.

The return of sequestration was averted last year by a two-year budget deal. Sequestration remains the law of the land until 2021.

Sequestration is expected to return in 2018 unless Congress passes a law to override it or agrees to another budget deal.

Even with the 2015 budget deal, the Defense Department said it will be working with at least a $14 billion for 2017.

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