Jul 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

U.S. Army announces cuts due to "unprecedented" recruiting challenges

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The U.S. Army is cutting the total number of expected soldiers over the next two years due to "unprecedented challenges" in recruiting.

The big picture: Army officials estimated at a House Armed Services Committee panel on Tuesday that they will be 10,000 soldiers short of the planned force size for this fiscal year, with numbers to drop further next year.

Why it matters: The declining number of soldiers could have an impact on overall readiness, Army Gen. Joseph Martin, vice chief of staff for the Army said at the hearing on Capitol Hill.

By the numbers: The Army expected 476,000 soldiers this year, Martin said.

  • But they are currently projected to have 466,400 soldiers.
  • The Army could end 2023 with between 445,000 and 452,000 soldiers depending on recruitment and retention, per AP.

What they’re saying: "We've got unprecedented challenges with both a post-COVID-19 environment and labor market, but also competition with private companies that have changed their incentives over time,” Martin told the House panel.

  • Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said at the hearing that the Army is "facing our most challenging recruiting environment" since the inception of the all-volunteer force.
  • "This is not a one-year challenge. We will not solve this overnight," Wormuth said. "Do we lower standards to meet end strength, or do we lower end strength to maintain a quality, professional force? We believe the answer is obvious — quality is more important than quantity."

Between the lines: The Army is not the only branch of the military facing recruiting problems, although its problems seem the most severe.

  • Senior Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps leaders have said they will dip into their pool of delayed entry applicants to meet their recruiting goals, which will put them behind for the next recruiting year.
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