All but a few Army installations will be able to avoid dramatic force reductions after the service on Thursday announced its latest round of restructuring needed to shrink its active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers in response to stringent spending caps imposed since fiscal 2013.
The supplemental programmatic environmental assessment the Army released in June 2014 listed 30 installations that potentially could lose an aggregate of between 2,500 and 16,000 military and civilian personnel by the end of this second round of personnel cuts, but the bulk of communities avoided the worst case outcomes. Only three installations would lose more than 2,500 military personnel, and only six would lose more than 1,000 soldiers, officials said.
The force structure reductions will occur over the next several years, with the Army’s active-duty end strength dropping to 450,000 by the end of FY 2018. The cuts in military personnel will be accompanied by a reduction of 17,000 Army civilians over the same timeframe, the Army News Service reported.
A total of 10 posts will suffer a loss of more than 500 soldiers (all are installations with brigade combat teams, except for Fort Leonard Wood):
- Fort Benning, Ga. — (net loss of) 3,402 soldiers
- Fort Hood, Texas — 3,350
- Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska — 2,631
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. — 1,251
- Fort Bliss, Texas — 1,219
- Schofield Barracks, Hawaii — 1,214
- Fort Stewart, Ga. — 947
- Fort Bragg, N.C. — 842
- Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. — 774
- Fort Riley, Kan. — 615
Of the 30 installations at risk of suffering significant force reductions, 26 are slated to lose at least 25 soldiers. But the changes will affect nearly every installation in the continental United States and overseas, officials said.
“Budget constraints are forcing us to reduce the Total Army,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Army deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7. “These were very difficult decisions to make as all of our installations and their communities offer tremendous value to our Army and the nation. In the end, we had to make decisions based on a number of strategic factors, to include readiness impacts, mission command and cost.”
Cuts to the force are coming from five areas, officials explained:
- reductions within every headquarters from battalion through Department of the Army, focusing on two-star and above headquarters;
- reduction of brigade combat teams;
- implementation of the Aviation Restructure Initiative;
- operational force design changes; and
- reduction to enabler and generating forces.
The Army will try to draw down the active force end strength gradually in order to “minimize the turbulence we have with soldiers and their families,” Brig. Gen. Randy George, the service’s director of force management, told reporters.