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New Army vice chief expects worse manpower conditions

The Army's new vice chief expects in 2016 that sequestration will once again rear its ugly head, and that means thousands more force-cuts in the service.

"The world is still a very dangerous place. It's more complex and uncertain as ever," said Gen. Daniel Allyn in a forum this month. "Yet our budget has declined and will get worse if sequestration returns in 2016 as planned. Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic that sequestration is going away, so we must brace ourselves once again for extreme fiscal constraint."

Allyn made these comments while speaking at the Association of the United States Army's Medical Hot Topic professional development forum, held just outside Washington, D.C.

His foreboding comments are some of his first public remarks since taking the Army vice chief ­job on Aug. 15.

The Army is already in the middle of cutting 10 brigade combat teams and 80,000 soldiers over two years. The Army drawdown is on schedule to reach 510,000 soldiers by the end of fiscal 2014 on Sept. 30, and it should reach an end-strength of 490,000 by the end of fiscal 2015. It's set to drop to 450,000 in the years to follow.

If Congress triggers another round of across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, again in 2016 it will mean the Army will have to drop to 420,000.

Senior Army leaders, including Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Allyn's predecessor, Gen. John Campbell, have said an end-strength of 420,000 presents "unacceptable risk."

For soldiers, it could mean more use of the Army's involuntary separation policies that have thus far targeted officers, senior enlisted soldiers and over-strength military occupational specialties.

Amid these cuts, the Army also must look ahead, as "this is not about the past, but the Army's future and preparing for Force 2025 and beyond," he said.

Force 2025 is the Army's push to determine what the Army will become by 2025, and it will establish an "enduring set of measures to guide senior leader decisions and long-term efforts," Allyn said.

"We're building a holistic modernization strategy to change the Army and deliver global land power capabilities to the joint force," he said. "Force 2025 is not the end-state. It's a waypoint for the future."

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