Army Says It Is Cutting 'Spaces,' Not 'Faces'

Service branch is slashing the size of its force by 24K
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 27, 2024 4:33 PM CST
US Army Is Cutting 24K Jobs
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth speaks at the Pentagon, Feb. 22, 2024.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

The US Army is slashing the size of its force by about 24,000, or almost 5%, and restructuring to be better able to fight the next major war, as the service struggles with recruiting shortfalls that made it impossible to bring in enough soldiers to fill all the jobs. The cuts will mainly be in already-empty posts—not actual soldiers—including in jobs related to counter-insurgency that swelled during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars but are not needed as much today. About 3,000 of the cuts would come from Army special operations forces. At the same time, however, the plan will add about 7,500 troops in other critical missions, including air-defense and counter-drone units and five new task forces around the world with enhanced cyber, intelligence, and long-range strike capabilities.

According to an Army document, the service is "significantly overstructured" and there aren't enough soldiers to fill existing units, the AP reports. The cuts, it said, are "spaces" not "faces" and the Army will not be asking soldiers to leave the force. Instead, the decision reflects the reality that for years the Army hasn't been able to fill thousands of empty posts. While the Army as it's currently structured can have up to 494,000 soldiers, the total number of active-duty soldiers right now is about 445,000. Under the new plan, the goal is to bring in enough troops over the next five years to reach a level of 470,000. Army leaders said they looked carefully across the board at all the service's job specialties in search of places to trim.

And they examined the ongoing effort to modernize the Army, with new high-tech weapons, to determine where additional forces should be focused. According to the plan, the Army will cut about 10,000 spaces for engineers and similar jobs that were tied to counter-insurgency missions. An additional 2,700 cuts will come from units that don't deploy often and can be trimmed, and 6,500 will come from various training and other posts. There also will be about 10,000 posts cut from cavalry squadrons, Stryker brigade combat teams, infantry brigade combat teams, and security force assistance brigades, which are used to train foreign forces. (The Army, Navy, and Air Force failed to meet recruitment targets last year, but the Marine Corps hit 100% of its goal.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.