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Army takes a chainsaw to 24,000 positions in response to recruitment shortfalls

by

Daily Caller News Foundation

The Army is cutting thousands of empty positions as the ongoing recruiting crisis has robbed the service of enough people to fill those roles, according to an Army document published Tuesday.

After a “rigorous” year-long review of the Army’s existing force structure, service officials determined the number and purpose of positions comprising the force did not match up with the changing security environment, the white paper stated. Officials justified cutting 24,000 roles that have been left empty as the Army deals with its worst-ever recruiting crisis as helping ensure the service only plans to assign and deploy the people it has available, cutting down on strain and allowing for more realistic planning.

The Army is “over-structured, meaning there are not enough soldiers to fill out existing units and organizations,” the document stated. It emphasized the cuts are coming to “authorizations (spaces)” not “individual soldiers (faces).”

The document described changes as “a significant force structure transformation” that capitalizes on previous years’ progress in modernization and reorganization. But, it also betrays the effects of the Army’s manning challenges as officials describe the world as growing more, not less, dangerous.

The Army’s current force structure assumes an active duty end strength — or total number of troops — of 494,000, the document says. However, Congress capped end strength at 445,000 in the fiscal year 2024 defense policy bill, a historically low number as the Army struggled to recruit enough soldiers to meet end strength goals.

For the second year in a row, the Army missed active duty recruiting objectives by thousands, achieving in 2023 about 55,000 of its 65,000 troop goal.

The reorganization will bring down authorized end strength to 470,000 soldiers, according to the document. Most of the cuts will affect positions that are “hollow,” or presently unmanned.

Others will be reallocated. Approximately 3,000 authorizations within the Army’s Special Operations Forces could be cut, justified at least partly by a demand to shift from counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations to “large-scale combat operations against highly sophisticated adversaries,” according to the white paper.

“By bringing force structure and end strength into closer alignment, the Army will ensure its formations are filled at the appropriate level to maintain a high state of readiness,” the documents stated.

“At the same time, the Army will continue to transform its recruiting efforts so that it can build back its end strength, which is needed to provide strategic flexibility, reduce strain on frequently deploying soldiers, and add new capabilities to the force,” it added.

The Army will also build new formations, ditching Cold War-era weapons and incorporating new, modernized systems into the reorganized units, the document stated.

“But in light of the changing security environment and evolving character of war, the Army is refocusing on conducting large scale combat operations against technologically advanced military powers. To meet these requirements, the Army must generate new capabilities and re-balance its force structure,” the document stated.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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