Army Announces Force Reductions, Future Civilian Cuts

Defense Department

The Army on Tuesday announced it is reducing its force and end strength with cuts that will also affect supporting civilian jobs in the coming years.

The service plans to reduce end-strength by 80,000 soldiers, with the goal of having 490,000 troops by fiscal 2017, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said during a Pentagon press briefing.

The Army did not have specific figures on the number of civilian jobs that would be lost with these reductions, but Odierno said there are “foundational requirements” on necessary positions, such as those in family and soldier programs.

"There will be a commensurate civilian drawdown with the military, but we're working our way through it," Odierno said.

Odierno emphasized that Army officials would communicate with officials in local communities and members of Congress to ensure a smooth transition. If full sequestration remains in place, however, the Army will have to reduce active guard and force structure by 100,000 troops, he said.

“I want to be clear, we are taking these actions because of the Budget Control Act of 2011,” Odierno said. “This end strength and force reduction predates sequestration, so as sequestration moves on, there'll be a requirement potentially to take out more force structure out of the Army.”

Lawmakers on Tuesday had mixed reactions to the Army's announcement, according to The Hill.  Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said "there is always risk when you make cuts," but added that there was "no other way they could" achieve the necessary budget requirements otherwise. 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., said the Army's decision to reduce force to the size it was before 9/11 was shortsighted. He said the country was forgetting about the lessons from previous force reductions, and now the Army was "foolishly expecting history to teach" a different lesson with this drawdown.

The cuts follow the reduction in force announced by the Navy last week for 745 civilian positions as a result of tightening budgets. The Air Force announced an RIF in April to eliminate 15,000 positions, but that was unrelated to sequestration budget cuts.

Defense Comptroller Robert Hale has said continued sequestration would lead to job losses throughout the Pentagon.

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