The Army is on track to reach its end strength goal of 1,018,000 soldiers by the end of September, and that will mean enough manpower to fill holes in existing combat units, save some units from planned deactivations, and man some new ones.
Units throughout the Army will feel the benefit of adding 28,000 troops to the active and reserve components, according to a Thursday release from the Army, reversing a drawdown that had planned for just 980,000 soldiers this year.
"These force structure gains facilitated by the FY17 end strength increase have begun, but some will take several years to achieve full operational capability," said Brig. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, director of the Force Management Division, in the release. "Implementation of these decisions, without sacrificing readiness or modernization, is dependent upon receiving future appropriations commensurate with the authorized end strength."
The Army has used a suite of force-shaping measures and incentives to retain and recruit enough soldiers to bring the force back to over a million, including five-figure enlistment and retention bonuses, as well as major opportunities for National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers to go active.
In addition to filling existing manning gaps in brigade combat teams, the release said, the plus-up will save several units that were slated for deactivation. They are:
- 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
- 18th Military Police Brigade Headquarters based in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
- 206th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas.
- 61st Maintenance Company at Camp Stanley, South Korea.
- 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea.
Soldiers retained during the end strength build up also could end up joining the recently announced Security Force Assistance Brigades and their training school, as well as an aviation training brigade at Fort Hood.
More soldiers will also help with the Army's increased manning in Europe.
The Army is planning to station the following units overseas, according to the release.
- A field artillery brigade headquarters with an organic brigade support battalion headquarters, a signal company and a Multiple Launch Rocket System battalion (MLRS).
- Two MLRS battalions with two forward support companies.
- A short range air defense battalion.
- A theater movement control element.
- A petroleum support company.
- An ammunition platoon.
Further, the Army plans to convert an infantry brigade to an armored brigade and add 1,300 new staff to Training and Doctrine Command, in an attempt to increase training and recruiting capacity, the release said.
"The end strength increase will augment deploying units, and units on high readiness status, with additional soldiers to increase Army readiness and enable us to continue to protect the nation," Mennes said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.