As of May 1, there were 518,581 soldiers on active duty, some 1,200 fewer than April 1, and 18,559 fewer than May 1, 2013. (Karl Weisel/Army)
Nearly 19,000 soldiers have been dropped from the Army’s active-duty rolls over the past year, according to the latest accounting of service strength by the Defense Manpower Data Center.
As of May 1, there were 518,581 soldiers on active duty, some 1,200 fewer than April 1, and 18,559 fewer than May 1, 2013.
The slow but steady reductions over the past year position the Army to reach 510,000 soldiers by Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2014, and 490,000 by Sept. 30, 2015.
In budget testimony and documents presented to Congress this spring, Army leaders indicated the drawdown likely will continue through the end of 2017, when manning could hit 450,000 to 440,000 soldiers.
Given that strategy, it means 20,000 soldiers will be removed from the active force in fiscal 2015, primarily through reduced accessions and re-enlistments, but also through a heavy dose of forced separations and early retirements among senior NCOs, captains, majors and senior field-grade officers.
Many of the involuntary separations will be generated by boards that have met, or will meet, during the remainder of fiscal 2014, which ends Sept. 30.
Involuntary separations generally do not take effect until several months, at least seven, after results of selection-out boards are approved by Pentagon officials.
Many of the separations in early 2015 will come from the master sergeant Qualitative Service Program board that met in June, and a series of captain and major reduction-in-force boards that met in April and May.
Sources indicate that results of the captain and major boards will be available in July, and will be bad news for about 1,600 officers.
The blood-letting will continue in fiscal 2015, with a colonel early retirement board meeting in November, a sergeant first class QSP board in February and QSP boards for staff sergeants and sergeants major in June.