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Friday, March 8, 2013

Army Drawdown and Restructuring: Background and Issues for Congress

Andrew Feickert
Specialist in Military Ground Forces

On January 26, 2012, senior DOD leadership unveiled a new defense strategy based on a review of potential future security challenges, current defense strategy, and budgetary constraints. This new strategy envisions a smaller, leaner Army that is agile, flexible, rapidly deployable, and technologically advanced. This strategy will rebalance the Army’s global posture and presence, emphasizing where potential problems are likely to arise, such as the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

As part of the Administration’s proposal, two armored brigade combat teams (ABCTs) in Europe will be eliminated out of a total of eight BCTs that will be cut from Active Army force structure. The Army has stated that it may cut more than eight BCTs from the Army’s current 44 Active BCTs. Army endstrength will go from 570,000 in 2010 to 490,000 during the Future Year Defense Plan (FYDP) period. As part of this reduction, the Army would no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, protracted stability operations but would continue to be a full-spectrum force capable of addressing a wide range of national security challenges. The Army National Guard and Army Reserves were not targeted for significant cuts. Army leadership stated the impending decrease in Active Duty Army force structure would place an even greater reliance on the National Guard and Reserves.

There will likely be a human dimension of the Army’s drawdown. Troops have received an unprecedented level of support from the American public, and those soldiers leaving the service—voluntarily and perhaps involuntarily—might have strong personal feelings about leaving the Army and their comrades after multiple deployments to combat zones. The Army drawdown will likely be achieved in large degree by controlling accessions (i.e., the number of people allowed to join the Army). If limiting accessions is not enough to achieve the desired endstrength targets, the Army can employ a variety of involuntary and voluntary drawdown tools authorized by Congress, such as Selective Early Retirement Boards (SERBs) and Reduction-in- Force (RIF). Voluntary tools that the Army might use include the Voluntary Retirement Incentive, the Voluntary Separation Incentive, Special Separation Bonuses, Temporary Early Retirement Authority, the Voluntary Early Release/Retirement Program, and Early Outs.

The Administration’s proposals to drawdown and restructure the Army raise a number of potential issues for congressional consideration. With the possibility of sequestration and a continuing resolution for the remainder of FY2013, Army leadership has stated that readiness and maintenance will be negatively impacted, but nothing has been said about how these cuts could impact drawdown and restructuring initiatives. The Army plans to “regionally align” an unknown number of its units in both the Active and Reserve Components primarily by language and cultural training. Little is known about how the Army plans to accomplish this, how long it will take, how the Army will measure the effectiveness of regionalization, and how much this initiative will cost. The Army is emphasizing “engagement” as a means of better enabling our partners to address their regional security challenges. If the Army intends to focus much of its post-2014 efforts on engagement operations, should the Army posture the force more toward engagement and less towards state-on-state conflict?

Date of Report: March 5, 2013
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: R42493
Price: $29.95

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