The Army will hold listening sessions at installations nationwide to assess local community sentiments surrounding upcoming force reductions, the Army News Service reported.
As part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Army must reduce its force by 80,000 troops -- a cut from 570,000 troops at its peak to 490,000 -- by 2017. The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act controls the drawdown so that no more than 15,000 soldiers leave the service annually between 2014 and 2017, according to the Army Times. The service is also expecting thousands more soldiers to leave through natural attrition.
Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Peggy Kageleiry said major force reductions would begin in 2014, and that the service’s leadership would take local community opinions into account before final decisions are made.
"These listening sessions are designed to enable community members to provide their concerns and unique perspectives on topics regarding their communities," Kageleiry said.
The Army emphasized that the force reductions were separate from the across-the-board cuts from sequestration currently affecting the rest of the Defense Department. However, Kageleiry said additional reductions may be necessary depending on the outcome of sequestration and the Obama administration’s fiscal 2014 budget request.
In January 2012, Defense published a paper that outlined many of the strategic choices the military would be forced to make in light of a tighter budget environment, the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia, and the ongoing drawdown in Afghanistan. This included a wider emphasis on cyber warfare, Air-Sea assets and a “smarter” use of Defense’s resources.