In addition, the Army's civilian workforce is projected to lose another 2,400 by 2017, after already losing 37,000 authorizations since 2011.
These cuts are in addition to a major drawdown of the Army's civilian workforce, which has been reduced by 37,000 authorizations since 2011 and is projected to lose another 2,400 by 2017.
The military personnel section of the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Army to reach these manning levels by Sept. 30:
Regular Army: 475,000 soldiers, a cut of 15,000.
Army National Guard: 342,000 soldiers, a cut of 8,200.
Army Reserve: 198,000 soldiers, a cut of 4,000.
Active Guard and Reserve (ARNG): 30,770 soldiers, a cut of 615.
Active Guard and Reserve (USAR): 16,261 soldiers, no change.
Dual-status military technicians (ARNG): 26,099 soldiers, a cut of 1,100.
Dual-status military technicians (USAR): 7,395 soldiers, a cut of 500.
Because military strength can fluctuate due to spurts and stops in accessions and attrition, Congress in recent years has allowed the services to miss their end-strength goals by 0.5 percent, either up or down.
That occurred this year, with the Army ending fiscal 2015 with 1,365 more soldiers on active duty than authorized, a variance of 0.3 percent.
In approving the new budget, lawmakers agreed to an amendment that would increase the variance percentage to 2 percent, which is insurance against any sharp decline in recruiting, or an unexpected slowdown in separations and retirements.
However, the legislators did agree that the services need to review and modernize their procedures for selecting officers for promotion, with the goal of giving boards the flexibility to select officers of particular merit for early promotion.
"The services and career-oriented officers will both benefit if the procedures that result are viewed by all stakeholders as objective and fair," the conferees said.
Other provisions in the personnel section of the new budget law will:
- Provide a one-year extension of enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses and special pays for the active and reserve components.
- Amend a provision of federal law (Title 10 USC, Sec 508a) that will reinstate the authority of the secretary of the Army to convene selection boards to consider Regular Army warrant officers of the active-duty list for possible involuntary discharge through Sept. 30, 2019.
- Amend Title 10 USC, Sec 1371 to authorize the secretary of the Army to retire warrant officers in the highest grade in which they have served satisfactorily.
- Amend Title 10 USC, Sec 1253 to authorize the secretary of the Army to defer the retirement of general officers serving as chief or deputy chief of chaplains to age 68, rather than the age 64 ceiling of previous law.