US Army Announces New Structure, Reduced Positions

    29 February 2024

    The U.S. Army recently announced new structuring plans for its forces. The plans involve cutting many unfilled jobs after hiring efforts failed to bring in enough soldiers to fill all job openings.

    The Army is cutting about 24,000, or almost 5 percent, of jobs, and restructuring to be better prepared for the future.

    The cuts will mainly be in already-unoccupied jobs — not soldiers. These include jobs related to counterinsurgency. Those jobs grew in number during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. About 3,000 of the cuts would come from Army special operations forces.

    FILE - U.S. Army soldiers march during a joint military drill of South Korea and the United States in Paju, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
    FILE - U.S. Army soldiers march during a joint military drill of South Korea and the United States in Paju, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

    However, the new plan will add about 7,500 troops in other missions. These include air-defense and counter-drone units and five new task forces around the world with increased cyber-, intelligence and long-distance strike capabilities.

    Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said she and General Randy George, the Army chief, reduced the number of openings.

    "We're moving away from counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. We want to be postured for large-scale combat operations," Wormuth told reporters recently. "So, we looked at where were there pieces of force structure that were probably more associated with counterinsurgency, for example, that we don't need anymore."

    George added that Army leaders did a lot of careful study to choose the places to cut.

    "The things that we want to not have in our formation are actually things that we don't think are going to make us successful on the battlefield going forward," he said.

    An Army document said the cuts 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 has not been able to fill thousands of empty jobs. While the Army 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.

    The measures come after more than 20 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan forced the Army to change. The changes included counterinsurgency forces to fight al-Qaida, the Taliban, and the Islamic State group.

    The military's attention has moved to "great power competition" from countries such as China and Russia, and threats from Iran and North Korea. The war in Ukraine has shown the need for greater attention to air-defense systems and the latest ways to use and to counter drones in the air and in the sea.

    Army leaders said they looked carefully at all the service's job specialties in search of places to cut. They examined the ongoing effort to modernize the Army with new high-technology weapons and to make decisions about additional forces.

    The changes are partly a result of the recruiting problems all military services are facing.

    In the last U.S. government budget year, which ended September 30, the Navy, Army, and Air Force all failed to meet their recruitment goals. The Marine Corps and the very small Space Force did meet their goals. The Army recruited a little over 50,000 soldiers, falling short of the publicly stated goal of 65,000.

    I'm John Russell.

    Lolita C. Baldor reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    counterinsurgency – n. action by an army, etc., against people who are fighting to take control of a government

    cyber –prefix related to computers, computer networks and securing the information on them

    posture – v. to position

    formation n. an arrangement of people, ships, or airplanes

    drone –n. a vehicle that is operated remotely which has no pilot or driver

    recruit v. to find suitable people and get them to join the armed forces