The Army is giving a clearer picture as to who is being involuntarily separated from active duty service as it tries to slim troops down to 450,000 by 2018.
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, a report to Congress states.
In total the Army involuntarily separated 494 soldiers between July and December 2015. The Army let go 238 Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels and 206 Sargent First Classes 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.
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.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn said the Army still needs to cut another 14,000 regular, guard and reserve troops to reach less than a million soldiers by 2018.
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.
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.
Allyn said the soldiers who were cut in the 2015 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.
Though the Army is currently drawing down, the House version of the 2017 defense authorization bill increases the ranks of the Army by 20,000, back up to 480,000, for 2017.
Justin Johnson, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said adding those troops will be a costly endeavor. He estimates the price tag at $1.5 billion to $2 billion just for 2017. That doesn’t include enduring costs.