As soon as the Army got the go-ahead in late 2016 to start building end strength again, the service set about trying to fill holes in formations with an increase in recruits and re-enlisted noncommissioned officers.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley set a goal last year to get to 105 percent manning, and now he’s set a timeline: 2020.

“We’re increasing combat readiness by filling our operational units to 100 percent of authorized strength this year, in 2019, and 105 percent by the end of 2020,” he told an audience at an Association of the United States Army event outside Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Milley had previously estimated that 105 percent level as a possibility by 2023.

The Army is working its way toward a target of 500,000 soldiers in the active component by 2024, in an effort to fill existing formations and, perhaps, allow for the addition of more brigade combat teams in the future.

While most units strive for 100 percent manning, due to injuries, illness, personal troubles or temporary assignments for schooling, many units are operating closer to the 80 percent to 90 percent range. Getting over the 100 percent mark would allow leeway for units that, for example, are scheduled for a combat training center rotation but have a handful of non-deployable soldiers on their rolls.

On the topic of non-deployables, Milley went on to set a quickly approaching benchmark for the Army, which has been able to get its rate of non-deployable soldiers down from 15 percent in 2015 to between 6 percent and 7 percent of the force today.

“We anticipate achieving our goal of 5 percent non-deployables by the end of this fiscal year,” Milley said, meaning Sept. 30.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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