Army cutting empty posts in major force structure transformation

The Army will shrink the size of its force by fiscal 2029 as it transitions from counterterrorism missions to large-scale combat operations.

The Army plans to shrink the size of its force by about 24,000 troops as it transitions from supporting counterinsurgency and counterterrorism missions for the last two decades to conducting large-scale combat operations against technologically advanced militaries.

The job cuts won’t affect active-duty soldiers as the service is looking to get rid of already empty positions that were created to support counterinsurgency operations but are no longer needed given current strategic priorities.

“We’re moving away from counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, we want to be postured for large-scale combat operations. So we looked at where there were pieces of force structure that were probably more associated with counterinsurgency, for example, that we don’t need anymore,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters during Defense Writers Group breakfast Tuesday.

Wormuth, along with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George, spoke to reporters ahead of the release of an Army Force Structure Transformation white paper that lays out what the service learned from a year-long assessment of its structure through a process known as Total Army Analysis.

After consulting with Congress, Army officials made a decision to bring down its authorized troop levels to 470,000 soldiers by fiscal 2029. It will allow the service to narrow the gap between force structure, which was designed to accommodate up to 494,000 soldiers, and the Army’s authorized force structure, which is currently set at 445,000 active duty soldiers.

The service plans to reduce Army special operations forces by about 3000 spaces. Service officials will focus on eliminating positions that are historically vacant or hard to fill.

“We tried to identify jobs that [special operations forces] had trouble filling, things like print media, psyops capabilities that are no longer needed. Those are the kinds of things that we look to get rid of,” Wormuth said.

Additionally, based on the analysis, the service decided to relocate engineers initially assigned to brigade combat teams to the division echelon. The move will allow the Army to reduce the overall number of engineer positions while giving division and corps commanders greater flexibility to deploy and concentrate engineer assets during large-scale combat operations.

By identifying these kinds of efficiencies, the service was able to cut almost 10,000 posts.

About 10,000 additional cuts will come from the inactivation of cavalry squadrons within continental US-based Stryker brigade combat teams and infantry brigade combat teams, conversion of infantry brigade combat team weapons companies to platoons and elimination of some positions within security force assistance brigades.

At the same time, the service will add 7,500 troops to support air and missile defense at the corps and division levels.

The new force structure will also include five multi-domain task forces designed to provide the Army with enhanced intelligence, cyber and long-range fire capabilities.

The Army will assign three task forces to the U.S. Army Pacific, and one task force will be assigned to the U.S. Army Europe-Africa. The service will retain another task force with a focus on the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.

One task force’s headquarters is already located in Germany and another is stationed in Hawaii.

The service is undergoing major force transformation to prepare for large-scale combat operations while struggling to meet its recruitment goals.

In fiscal 2022, for example, the Army missed its recruitment goal by 15,000 soldiers.

The service is making a more fundamental shift in how it recruits future soldiers by creating a professional recruiting workforce. At the same time, initiatives like the soldier referral program and the future soldier prep course have brought in over 14,000 new soldiers since 2022.

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