Buyouts, early outs could be part of Army plan to cut 80,000 soldiers and officers

The Army could resort to buyouts and severance packages in its recently announced effort to eliminate 80,000 soldiers over the next six years, the National Journal has reported.

With Pentagon budget cuts of more than $487 billion during the next 10 years, the Obama administration is aiming to create a “leaner and meaner” military, in the words of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

To cut the necessary number of soldiers -- the largest force reduction since the late 1990s -- the Army is considering severance packages, buyouts and other personnel reduction measures, as reported (subscription required) by National Journal, Government Executive’s sister publication.

Provisions buried inside the latest Defense authorization bill create two possible early retirement programs for the Army to explore. One is voluntary retirement incentives, in which the Army would offer experienced officers 12 times their normal monthly pay to leave the force. A second grants temporary early retirement authority to officers and enlisted troops who retire after 15 years instead of 20.

“No decision has been made yet on whether or not the Army will utilize either of these programs,” human resources spokesman Lt. Col. Timothy Beninato told National Journal.

According to Reuters, ground forces numbers will fall from 570,000 in 2010 to 490,000 by 2017. The Marine Corps will be reduced from 202,000 to 182,000 during the same period.

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