The Army is pushing out about 3,000 senior noncommissioned officers earlier than anticipated under a new policy that takes effect this fall.
A directive signed by Army Secretary Eric Fanning changes the retention control points back to levels before the U.S. troop escalation in Iraq in 2007.
Retention control points are the maximum amount of years an enlisted soldier can serve before he or she must be promoted or leave the Army.
“As the Army force structure changes, it is critical that we retain the NCOs with the most potential while making our future leadership development model a priority. The Army NCO Corps is the backbone of our Army and we will continue to allow Senior NCOs to serve a tenure that supports a balanced, healthy promotion system for all enlisted ranks,” an Army spokesman told Federal News Radio.
Starting in October the retention control points for sergeant first class will be reduced from 26 years to 24.
Master sergeant control points will go from 29 years to 26 and sergeant major control points will decrease from 32 years to 30.
Last year the Army reduced its retention control points for promotable sergeants first class from 29 years to 26 and lowered tenure of promotable master sergeants from 32 to 29 years.
The soldiers are forced to retire or go to the reserve or National Guard components.
The move will help the Army meet its goal of reducing its active duty force to 450,000 by 2018. It will reduce its total force from 1.3 million to 980,000 by 2018 as well.
The directive is one of the first big policy changes by Army Secretary Eric Fanning, who was confirmed May 17.
The Army is planning to cut 10,000 officers by 2018 to reach its drawdown goals.
More experienced soldiers have been more likely to get the ax from active duty in the past.
Soldiers with more than 20 years of experience who held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel and those in the upper echelons of the enlisted ranks made up the majority of the service’s members who were laid off, said a congressional report.
In total the Army involuntarily separated 494 soldiers between July and December 2015. The Army let go 238 Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels and 206 Sargeants First Class and Master Sergeants. Of the nearly 500 soldiers laid off, all except for 31 had 20 years or more of service, the report states.
The specialties of those involuntarily separated ranged from electronic warfare specialist to public affairs officer. Logistics officers took the biggest hit: the Army cut 33. Other specialties that took the brunt of the layoffs were aviation officers, with 21, Corps of Engineers officers, with 20, and infantry officers with 18, the report states.
“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,” said Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, during a March 15 Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing..
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.
The House Armed Services and Appropriations Committees are trying to stop the drawdown of the Army in the 2017 defense authorization bill. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain submitted an amendment to increase defense funding by $17 billion in part to keep the Army from reducing in size.