The Army faces cuts to end strength and top line funding in President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2022 budget request, according to documents released Friday.
“The reduction for the Army reflects the president’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the beginning of fiscal year ,” said Anne McAndrew, acting Defense Department comptroller, in a media briefing Friday afternoon.
All three components of the total Army face small personnel cuts, totaling 1,700 troops. The service’s overall spending will decline from its current fiscal 2021 authorization of $176.6 billion to $173 billion if enacted — a $3.6 billion decrease.
The cuts will not impact force structure, said Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, director of Army budget, on Friday afternoon.
The end strength reductions would come over the strenuous objections of Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville, who has previously expressed grave concern over the size of the force.
“This is the same size Army that we had on 9/11, and when I take a look at what the requirements are, when I take a look at what historically we needed, and now that we’re in a time of great power competition, I’m very, very concerned about the size of the Army,” McConville said during an April discussion at the Center for a New American Security.
McConville has also warned that withdrawing from Afghanistan will not offer many resources back to the Army, since the total commitment of soldiers to that country is minor at this point in the war.
Former Army Secretary Mark Esper had previously called for a 500,000 member active-duty force.
If enacted, Biden’s budget request will cut the Regular Army from 485,900 troops to 485,000.
The Army National Guard could shrink from 336,500 troops to an even 336,000, despite senior Guard brass begging for more troops after the busiest year for the component since World War II.
“The demand signal for the National Guard goes up and up,” said Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, the California National Guard’s top general, in a January media roundtable. “The Guard is not big enough and we need to grow.”
The force’s smallest component, the Army Reserve, will reduce by 300 troops from 189,800 to 189,500.
Even as troop numbers go down, though, spending on military personnel is increasing in order to accommodate a 2.7 percent pay raise, 3.1 percent basic allowance for housing increase and other increases to quality of life programs.
The Army may cut from other key areas in order to protect its modernization priorities, too.
The service’s military construction budget is slated to decline by 15 percent from $1.4 billion to $1.2 billion, according to the request.
The Biden administration is also requesting less in procurement, research, and maintenance funds compared to fiscal 2021′s enacted spending. This includes a $1.3 billion cut to aircraft procurement.
The Army’s operation and maintenance request is about $700 million less than previously enacted, largely due to changes in the Army’s posture in U.S. Central Command, according to the service. The request will fund 20 Combat Training Center rotations, four less than last year, as well as the new Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model.
Defense News reporter Jen Judson and Army Times editor Kyle Rempfer contributed reporting to this story.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.