If you thought promotions and duty positions were competitive before, wait until after the next twelve months when the Army downsizes to its smallest size since WWII. According to Defense News,  Lt. Gen. James McConville, the deputy chief of staff for personnel (G-1) recently announced the Army will be downsizing from 1.3 million to a total force of 980,000 soldiers (Active duty 450,000 soldiers, Army National Guard 335,000 soldiers, and  Army Reserve 195,000 soldiers) by the end of fiscal year 2018.

“We’re coming down from a peak of 1.33 million to a 980,000 force, so this will be the smallest Army we’ve had since World War II,” McConville said. – Defense News

The Army is working on its readiness tracking in order to ensure everyone is deployable and those that are not will be separated. As of July 2016, the article states 148,000 soldiers are non-deployable in all three components.

First to go will more than likely be those already considered non-deployable due to permanent profiles, people passed over twice for promotions, soldiers that have had prior disciplinary actions, and non-MOSQ (not qualified for their duty position).

To meet those numbers, the Army is scheduled to conduct involuntary separation or early separation boards in fiscal 2017,” McConville said.

On average, 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers each year are affected by involuntary separations, he said.

“Most of the drawdown has been done by reductions in accessions, bringing less folks in,” McConville said.

For officers, most of the involuntary separations affect those who have been passed over twice for promotion.

“Our promotion rates are less than they were when we were growing the Army,” McConville said. “We’re running about 10 percent below normal at the company-grade level and about 20 percent to 25 percent below normal at the field-grade level.”

McConville said he expects promotion rates to “slowly move up” as the Army conducts more early retirement boards for colonels and lieutenant colonels. – Defense News

Besides the obvious of downsizing the Army while the country is still actively engaged militarily overseas, the downsize will also have other drawbacks. Soldiers will have to more closely manage their own records and career in order to stay in a deployable status. Promotions might be scarce further down the road and lateral movement might also be difficult since there will be less positions available.

Voluntary early retirement and separation for seasoned commissioned and non-commissioned officers will mean a loss of knowledge and experience. The Army will lose battle tested leaders and people who have served their country honorably, which is what Lt. Gen. James McConville said is the hardest part about the downsize.

“For me, in this job, one of the most difficult things that we have to do is ask soldiers that have served honorably during a time of conflict to leave the service. We really don’t want to do that, but the drawdown numbers force us to do that.”

You can read the full Defense News article HERE

Image courtesy of US Army