Army to lose nearly 10,000 soldiers in first year of end-strength cuts


By LEO SHANE III | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 13, 2012

WASHINGTON -- The Army will shed almost 10,000 soldiers and 14,000 civilian employees in fiscal 2013, and spend less on aircraft and ground vehicles, under budget plans announced Monday at the Pentagon.  

Guard and reserve numbers will be unaffected by the end strength drawdown, the first year of a five-year plan to drop about 72,000 soldiers from the payroll.

Officials haven’t specified what specialties will see the heaviest cuts, but have said they hope to keep mid-career non-comissioned officers to preserve the services experience and expertise. The Army has announced they will eliminate at least eight brigade combat teams in coming years, but said those details are still under review.

The civilian cuts will largely come from operation and maintenance jobs in support of active-duty troops.  

Under the 2013 budget plans, the Army is positioned as the only service to see an increase in base budget funding. The request calls for $134.6 billion in spending on soldiers’ programs and equipment next year, up about $700 million from fiscal 2012 levels.

But in reality, the money available to Army planners will drop significantly next year, as overseas contingency funding for the service is slashed by more than $17 billion dollars. That figure reflects the drawdown of combat forces from both Iraq and Afghanistan, and will drop total Army funding more than 8 percent next year.

The Army is poised to spend more on aircraft next fiscal year ($6.4 billion) than on tracked ground vehicles, missiles and ammunition combined ($6.0 billion). The service will buy nearly 250 new or remanufactured helicopters and unmanned drones, including 24 replacements for aircraft lost in combat.

That aircraft spending also includes $2.5 billion to upgrade the service’s fleet of Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, a move Army officials said is critical for the fleet’s future capabilities.  

Stryker purchases will be cut back more than $400 million, and tactical/support ground vehicles trimmed about $250 million more from fiscal 2012 levels.

Defense officials have also announced a delay in development of the new ground combat vehicle due to contracting issues, a move that’s expected to save the department roughly $1.3 billion over the next five years.

Twitter: @LeoShane

from around the web