It wasn’t long ago that the Army was 570,000 soldiers deep. With two wars underway and other commitments around the world, that’s what it took.
Now, with Iraq behind us and Afghanistan winding down, Washington budget-writers are calling for big military staffing cuts. The Army is already down to about 522,000 solders. The projection is 490,000 by late next year and 450,000 two years later.
In some scenarios, the Army could go as low as 420,000 troops, which is dangerous, since it’s not enough to wage one major, prolonged war. We need better readiness than that, and talk about a smaller Army than we’ve had since before we entered World War II is downright dangerous.
Meanwhile, there’s concern about the numbers of well-trained, combat-experienced officers who may become downsizing casualties. Some excellent leaders, especially captains and majors, may be lost.
That will only be a problem if the Army doesn’t thin its ranks with great care. Just as it is in the enlisted ranks, not all officers are equal. There are superb leaders, adequate leaders and lousy leaders. That last group should be the first go to, followed by the mediocre. But protect the best. Careful downsizing can, and should, be the route to excellence throughout all of our military services.
— Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer