Military members are preparing for large-scale troop cuts in the near future. Defense Department officials are planning to reduce the Army by 80,000 soldiers, from 570,000 to 490,000, by the end of 2017 to meet new budget restrictions.
While many older soldiers are concerned about being forced into early retirement, some younger soldiers are concerned over what cuts might occur between now and their own retirement.
Here is a breakdown of what to expect:
The Army has announced it will dismantle at least eight of its 45 Brigade Combat Teams, each containing approximately 4,000 troops. This will mean several thousand troops will be forced to separate or relocate over the course of the transition. It also means forces will be able to deploy to fewer locations simultaneously. Service members who have had disciplinary issues or problems with the physical fitness test can expect to be among the first in these troop cuts. It is also possible that the Army will bar re-enlistment, depending on a soldier’s career field and performance history. The Army could also enact early-out authority if the troop cuts become hard to make; this can be used to discharge active duty soldiers up to one year prior to the end of enlistment. The consolation is that soldiers who are separated in this manner will still retain traditional separation benefits.
The 2012 Defense Authorization Act re-established several of the incentives designed to minimize instances of involuntary separation and ease the burden of involuntary separations. These options include:
These incentives will be available until Dec. 31, 2018 and are designed to encourage voluntary separation and in turn reduce the number of involuntary troop cuts.
The instability in the Middle East continues to be a major concern for senior military leaders and political officials when evaluating troop cuts and the impact it will have on overall military readiness. “That’s another reason why I asked for six years to downsize the Army — if something happens, you want to make sure the president has the option to react however he so chooses,” Army Gen. Raymond Odierno told reporters last month. The needs of the military will dictate whether these initiatives proceed as planned. Service members who are concerned about being separated should check out some of Veteran United’s other resources, including Budgeting your Military Service Separation or Out of the Military and Unemployed: Best Industries to Find Work.