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Active-force sees sharp manpower drop

Mar. 16, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
The Army's active component strength is expected to hit 490,000 by Sept. 30, 2015. Here, Wiesbaden V Corps soldiers salute during a casing ceremony in Wiesbaden, Germany.
The Army's active component strength is expected to hit 490,000 by Sept. 30, 2015. Here, Wiesbaden V Corps soldiers salute during a casing ceremony in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Karl Weisel/Army)
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Status of the force

How many soldiers, by rank, were serving in the active Army as of February.

RankTotal soldiers
Lt. Gen.48
Maj. Gen.117
Brig. Gen.137
Lt. Col.10,391
1st Lieutenant15,320
2d Lieutenant6,991
RankTotal soldiers
RankTotal soldiers
Sgt. Maj.3,705
Master Sgt.12,403
Sgt 1st Class40,031
Staff Sgt.61,606
Pvt. 1st Class55,344
Pvt. E-227,672
Pvt. E-119,626
Grand Total523,001


Regular Army end strength in January took a sharp drop and hit 523,000 by the end of the month, after hovering around 530,000 early in the fiscal year.

The downward trend is likely to show up in February, too, although totals for last month are pending tabulation by the Defense Manpower Data Center. The effects are showing up from smaller recruiting and re-enlistment missions for 2014, plus an expected surge in involuntary separations and retirements generated by the drawdown-related boards that met last summer and fall.

The recruiting mission for the Regular Army this year is 57,000, 12,000 fewer than in 2013, and well below the annual average of 73,200 for the previous decade.

The retention mission for this year is 47,500, limited to soldiers whose terms of service expire Sept. 30, 2015, or earlier. For the past decade annual missions have frequently topped 55,000, and sometimes 65,000.

Involuntary separations generally do not take effect until several months after the results of reduction-in-force and selective early retirement boards are approved by Pentagon officials.

Many of the soldiers hitting force-out deadlines now were selected by the boards that met in the summer and fall of 2013, and are contributing to the end strength reduction.

More boards are scheduled for this year, and are expected to reduce 2015 end strength by at least 3,000 NCOs and mid-career officers.

The Army’s drawdown strategy for the near-term calls for active component strength to hit 490,000 by Sept. 30, 2015. However, that manning level is expected to be breached in fiscal 2016 and beyond, when budget-driven cuts could slash the force by an additional 40,000 to 70,000 soldiers.

The latest strength accounting report for the Army shows an active component of 97,872 officers and warrant officers, 420,701 enlisted soldiers and 4,428 West Point cadets.

The Army has 314 general officers, with 12 of those being four-stars, 48 lieutenant generals, 117 major generals and 137 brigadier generals. By comparison, the Air Force has 294 flag officers, the Navy 218 and the Marine Corps 82.

The field-grade component of the force consists of 31,648 colonels, lieutenant colonels and majors, while company-grade cohorts total 50,434 captains and lieutenants.

The warrant officer corps comprises 15,476 aviators and technical service specialists, many of them former NCOs. There are 684 chief warrant officers five, a grade that under federal law is restricted to no more than 5 percent of the total warrant population.

The Regular Army has 420,701 enlisted soldiers, including 56,139 senior NCOs in the ranks of sergeant first class, master sergeant and sergeant major.

Federal law caps the number of master sergeants and sergeants major at no more than 2.5 percent and 1.25 percent of the total enlisted force at the beginning of the fiscal year. However, when the number of sergeants major is less than the authorization, the difference can be applied toward the master sergeant authorization.

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