The US Army announced its plans today to cut 40,000 troops plus 17,000 civilian employees over the next two years. The cuts would reduce the active-duty Army from its current size of about 490,000 soldiers to about 450,000, its smallest number since before the United States entered World War Two These cuts would negatively impact its domestic missions and foreign commitments.
Another 30,000 troops will be cut, bringing the Army down to 420,000 troops if the automatic budget cuts aka “sequestration”, take place in October. At that level, the Army would not be able to meet its current deployments and responding to demands for troops in other regions. In 2013, the Army maintained that dipping below 450,000 soldiers could prevent it from prevailing in a war.
Meanwhile, the Army must be ready to quickly deploy troops for crises throughout the world and keep troops rotating into Korea, Europe and the Middle East. In 2014 in his statement to Congress General Odierno questioned if going below 490,000 was the right thing to do citing the recent unexpected military threats and hostilities by muslim terrorists, the invasion of Anti-American forces in the Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists and Russian forces, the collapse of the government in Yemen, and the outbreak of Ebola in Africa as evidence of the volatility of the world in which we live and the velocity of instability to which we are subject. Sequestration will rapidly drive force strength of 420,000 even lower for the Army, with estimates as low as 380,000 by 2019.
Force reductions must be made by assessing the capabilities of our Army when pitted against potential adversaries in the context of the 10 missions set forth in our Defense Strategic Guidance. More over while the potential reduction down to 420,000 of active duty soldiers is alarming, equally alarming is the speed with which these reductions are occurring.