The Army on Tuesday denied it will have to force anyone out of its service in the coming years, amidst reports it would have to issue reductions in force to thousands of officers.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday the Army will have to force out 3,000 officers to meet personnel goals set by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in his fiscal 2015 budget proposal. An Army spokesman, however, told Government Executive that the service has some flexibility with the cuts.
“There are no requirements,” said Troy Rolan, the Army spokesman. “Nothing is written in stone.”
Hagel’s budget proposal would reduce the size of the Army by 30,000 soldiers by October 2015, bringing it to 490,000 troops. It would cut an additional 40,000 by the end of fiscal 2017.
Even if the budget proposal becomes the law of the land, Rolan added, the Army could rely on natural separations — such as retirements — and fewer enlistments to reach its goals.
“I don’t see why we would have to force anybody out,” he said. “There’s so many ways we can reach any number, it’s almost impossible to describe them all.”
The Pentagon largely did not receive the same relief as the rest of the federal government in the 2014-2015 budget deal that rolled back many of the sequestration cuts required by the 2011 Budget Control Act, prompting Hagel to issue his blueprint to shrink the size of the military in the post-war era.
During a recent congressional hearing, Army Gen. John F. Campbell acknowledged many soldiers would be leaving the Army in the coming years, but fell short of predicting anyone being forced out.
“As we downsize, we are committed to taking care of those who have sacrificed so much for our nation over the past 12-plus years of war,” Campbell told members of the readiness subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month.
AP originally reported the Army would target officers with “disciplinary or other problems in their annual evaluations,” as the first soldiers it would force out. Rolan said, however, there was nothing the Army had to do “aside from cutting down enlistments.”