What better time for the U.S. Army to considering cutting its numbers than right now, with tensions between the U.S. and both Russia and China likely at multi-decade highs? But that's exactly what a new budget proposal suggests, according to a new report by Bloomberg.
The Army would fall under 1 million soldiers for the first time in 20 years under the new proposal, with active duty Army falling from 485,000 soldiers to 473,000. That number, combined with National Guard and Reserve forces, puts the U.S. total at 998,500 soldiers.
National Guard and Reserve numbers are expected to stay at 336,000 and 189,500 for fiscal 2023, the report says. Gabe Camarillo, the undersecretary of the Army, commented: “We did not want, as we looked ahead at recruiting projections, to take any decrease in our quality.”
He told Bloomberg that the move was "pro-active" and said that the decision to make the cuts was catalyzed by "a focus on recruiting high-quality soldiers without lowering standards" and not to free up cash in the budget.
He also said he still expects the Army's numbers to rise within the next five years.
Then, he attributed some of the "pro-active" decision to a "tight labor market", stating: “All employers, to include the Army, are facing significant challenges just as a result of a tight labor market that we see across our economy. That creates a lot of the conditions that we are responding to.”
The Army is asking for $178 billion in funding for 2023, up $2.8 billion from 2022. The additional funds are being used for "real growth" and "inflation", the Army's Director of Budget, Maj. Gen. Mark Bennett, said.
“We are able to maintain our momentum. We did not need to look at our modernization accounts as sources of major reductions of any kind,” Camarillo concluded.