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MIlitary Personnel

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act built up force structure. The bill increased the end strength of the active-duty Army to 476,000. The Army currently stood at 475,000, but was scheduled to be reduced to 460,000 by the end of 2017. The Air Force got an active duty increase to 321,000, an increase of 4,000, and the Marine Corps was authorized to bump up to about 18,500, an increase of 3,000. The value of pay and benefits has eroded as annual raises have fallen below civilian wage growth for the past five years.

Trump wanted another 60,000 soldiers in the ranks of the active-duty Army, for a total of 540,000 soldiers. The Department of the Army will add 28,000 soldiers to its ranks by 30 September30, 2017, officials announced 16 March 2017. The troop increase was directed by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017. Across the force, the active component end-strength authorization increased by 16,000 to 476,000; the Army National Guard increased by 8,000 to 343,000, and the Army Reserve increased by 4,000 to 199,000. This 28,000 increase meant the total Army will number 1,018,000 Soldiers.

Trump vowed to build a 350-ship Navy, versus the current battle force of 272 ships and submarines. An unspecified number of additional sailors would man the 78 ships and submarines he intends to build - this plan would require the addition of 50,000 sailors, by one estimate. This buildup would move the service from 330,000 sailors today to more than 380,000. He wants up to 12,000 more Marines to serve in combat units.

Trump proposed to buy at least another 100 combat aircraft for the Air Force, along with the personnel required for these units. The Air Force has declined from its post-9/11 peak of 376,616 airmen in fiscal 2004 to roughly 311,000 in fiscal 2015. John Venable, an Air Force veteran and a defense fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said he believes Trump could boost Air Force personnel by roughly 40,000 airmen in the next few years.

Personnel End Strength - end, FY2017

TOTAL 1,296,900 448,700 364,500 764,400 2,875,500
DOD ----- ----- ----- 193,800 193,800
Army 476,000 343,000 199,000 196,500 1,214,500
Navy 322,900 ----- 58,000 183,300 564,200
Marines 182,000 ----- 38,500 20,000 245,000
Air Force 317,000 105,700 69,000 170,800 662,500

Personnel End Strength - end, FY2016

TOTAL 1,301,300 447,500 363,500 769,900 2,882,200
DOD ----- ----- ----- 195,400 195,400
Army 475,000 342,000 198,000 201,700 1,216,700
Navy 327,300 ----- 57,400 181,500 565,900
Marines 182,000 ----- 38,900 20,100 241,000
Air Force 317,000 105,500 69,200 171,000 662,700

Personnel End Strength - July 2010

TOTAL 1,421,414 77,861 464,900 379,600 752,000 3,017,414
DOD ----- ----- ----- ----- 126,000 126,000
Army 562,400 48,331 358,200 205,000 250,000 1,375,600
Navy 324,239 10,818 ----- 65,500 199,000 588,239
Marines 203,075 2,261 ----- 39,600 ----- 242,675
Air Force 331,700 16,451 106,700 69,500 177,000 684,900
* non-add
** Does not include non-drilling Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)
  • Marine Reserve Force Strength Facts
  • Law authorizes the number of military members in every Service and component - this number is known as End Strength. Recruiting involves attracting and accessing both prior Service members and those who are new to the military, referred to as non-prior service. In 2010 the Army and Marine Corps successfully achieved their "grow the force" active military goals of 547,400 and 202,100 enlisted, respectively, more than two years ahead of schedule.

    US Army End Strength

    In the 1990s the Army dropped from 780,000 to 480,000 active duty end strength. Many in Congress wanted to increase the Army's end strength by as much as 40,000 troops in order to ease the strain of deployments. But the Army's top general, Peter Schoomaker, adamantly opposed adding end strength. Army planners believe the service can gain 10,000 spaces from military to civilian conversions. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has authorized the Army to temporarily exceed end strength limits by 30,000. The Military Officers Association of America questioned the numbers, stating that the Army already is some 17,000 over end strength, which would bring the actual increase to 13,000.

    The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the fiscal year 2005 Defense Appropriations bill on June 22, 2004 which provided $605 million to support an Army end strength increase of 20,000 soldiers, leaving the overall Department of Defense end strength of 2,263,900. The provision, passed as an amendment to the fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill, would increase the Army's strength to 502,400. Voting against it were Republicans Gordon Smith of Oregon, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Larry Craig of Idaho and Craig Thomas of Wyoming. Not voting were Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Robert Bennett, R-Utah and James Inhofe, R-Okla. The House version of the bill, approved in May 2004, would have added 30,000 Soldiers and 9,000 Marines over three years. Under the the fiscal 2005 Defense Appropriations Act which President Bush signed into law 05 August 2004, Air Force Reserve Command's end-strength ceiling was raised to 76,100 reservists in the Selected Reserve in 2005.

    The Army's Average Strength during FY2004 was 210,252 higher than authorized end strength, reflecting Guard and Reserve mobilizations authorized in the supplemental. [ Operation and Maintenance Overview, page 178]

    In October 2004 the FY2005 Defense Authorization Act increased Army end strength by 20,000 and Marine Corps end strength by 3,000 for FY2005, with additional increases authorized in future years. The Army recognizes the challenges the continuing deployments have created. It is one of the driving forces behind the Army growing by close to 30,000 Soldiers over two years.

    The authorization that the Army has to raise the end strength to 512,400 through fiscal 2009 would allow the service to continue its transformation plan. That plan is to build to 43 active brigade combat teams and 44 reserve component brigade combat teams- 34 National Guard, 10 Army Reserve - and the support units needed to maintain them. The requirement is to be able to deploy and sustain 20 brigade combat teams. To do that on a sustainable model, the Army believes that it must be able to go to one deployment in a three-year term for active forces and a deployment in a five- or six-year term for your reserve forces.

    The 512,400 active duty figure was based on continued access to National Guard and Army Reserve troops. Key to that is having units trained sufficiently prior to deployment. If that's not true and the National Guard and reserves are not available under those assumptions, then the Army will have to grow the active force further.

    The increase in early 2005 in maximum recruiting age from 35 to 39 applied only to National Guard and Reserve recruits, not to active duty troops.

    The Army's recruiting goal that began in October 2004 was 80,000 by 2005 with the hopes of recruiting at least 8,000 prior-service troops. The new Defense Department program intended to rebalance the size of the military is called "Operation Blue to Green." Under this plan, the Army will reach out to Sailors and Airmen who are leaving under the force shaping initiative but who still want to serve their country.

    The "third wave" is a plan by the Department of the Army to outsource 214,000 civilian and military jobs to the private sector. For the first time, almost all non-combat positions are included in the outsourcing plans. The genesis of the third wave was a 4 Oct 2002 memo from Secretary White to the Non-Core Competencies Working Group (NCCWP).

    The Secretary of Defense proposed to increase the authorized end strength of the active duty Army to 569,400 in the fiscal year 2011 budget request.

    During the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Army had about 570,000 troops and has since dropped to about 510,000. Cuts in 2014 were aimed at producing an end strength of 490,000 troops the Armys previous target. The most recent defense budget proposal from the Pentagon, now working its way through Congress, called for an Army of some 450,000 soldiers. Should sequestration return in 2016, after two years on hold because of a bipartisan budget deal, 420,000 troops would be the target end strength.

    In 2011, the Secretary of Defense announced a series of initiatives intended to reduce costs across the Department of Defense (DOD) and the military services, including cuts of $29.5 billion from planned Army spending from fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2016. Additionally, in 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011, which, among other things, set limits for national defense spending through fiscal year 2021. In response to these spending limits the Army announced it would reduce its planned end strength from a high of about 1.11 million soldiers in fiscal year 2011 to 1.045 million soldiers by fiscal year 2016. In June 2014, DOD stated that the Army would further reduce its end strength to 980,000 soldiers by fiscal year 2018, a level at which the Army stated that it could execute the National Defense Strategy, but at significant risk.3 The Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff reiterated this point in March 2015 in congressional testimony, and stated that further reductions would make that strategy unexecutable.

    Congress established the National Commission on the Future of the Army in the Carl Levin and Howard P. Buck McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The commission was directed to evaluate the size and force mix of the Regular Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve and make recommendations where appropriate. The Commissions final report, published in January 2016, determined that an Army with 980,000 soldiers (450,000 in the active component, 335,000 in the Army National Guard, and 195,000 in the Army Reserve), is the minimum sufficient force needed to meet the U.S.s national security objectives and the challenges of the future strategic environment.

    The United States Army reached its lowest active-duty roster in 75 years, following the discharge of 2,600 soldiers in March 2016. The latest reports show that, as of March, there were 479,172 active-duty soldiers, 154 fewer than the post-Cold War drawdown in 1999. This means the US had the smallest force since 1940, when the number of soldiers on active duty stood at 269,023.

    If Congress does not act to mitigate the magnitude and speed of reductions with sequestration, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said September 20, 2013, the Army will not be able to fully execute requirements of the defense strategic guidance issued in 2012. By the end of fiscal 2014, the Army will have significantly degraded readiness, as 85 percent of active and reserve brigade combat teams will be unprepared for contingency requirements, he said.

    From fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2017, as the Army continues to draw down and is restructured into a smaller force, its readiness will continue to degrade and modernization programs will experience extensive shortfalls, the general added. "We'll be required to end, restructure or delay over 100 acquisition programs, putting at risk the ground combat vehicle program, the armed aerial scout, the production and modernization of our other aviation programs, system upgrades for unmanned aerial vehicles, and the modernization of air defense command-and-control systems, just to name a few," Odierno told the panel.

    Only in fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2023 will the Army begin to rebalance readiness and remodernization, the general said, but this will come at the expense of significant reductions in the Army's number of soldiers and its force structure. The Army will be forced to take further cuts from a wartime high of 570,000 soldiers in the active Army, 358,000 in the Army National Guard and 205,000 in the Army Reserve to no more than 420,000 in the active Army, 315,000 in the Army National Guard and 185,000 in the Army Reserve, the general said.

    This represented a total Army end-strength reduction of more than 18 percent over seven years, a 26 percent reduction in the active Army, a 12 percent reduction in the Army National Guard and a 9 percent reduction in the Army Reserve, he explained, adding that it also will cause a 45-percent reduction in active Army brigade combat teams.

    US Air Force End Strength

    The Air Force exceeded the mandated active duty end strength of 359,000 during 2002 and 2003 due to the Global War on Terrorism. The Air Force planned to reduce the size of the active forces by more than 20,000 people by the end of fiscal year 2005. The Navy planned a force reduction of almost 8,000 through 2006.

    As of 2003 Air Force manning numbers were beyond the authorized end-strength of 359,300 airmen on active duty. The Force Shaping Program has scheduled active-duty numbers to drop by 3,900 officers and 12,700 enlisted airmen by 15 September 2004. Palace Chase is a program for airmen to transition off of active duty by trading their active-duty service commitments for Air Force Reserve service commitments. The Department of Defense is turning back the clock, raising Air Force Reserve Command's end-strength ceiling to the fiscal year 1996 level. The change is the result of the FY 2005 Defense Appropriations Act. President Bush signed the bill into law 05 August 2004. Under the defense bill, AFRC may have up to 76,100 reservists in the Selected Reserve in FY 2005.

    US Navy End Strength

    After years of downsizing, by March 2009 the U.S. Navy had nearly achieved its end-strength goal of 329,000 Sailors. "For the Navy, force stabilization marks a transitional period, where we are now finished downsizing," Rear Adm. Daniel P. Holloway, director of the Navy's military personnel, plans and policy division, told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters. The Navy had been reducing its ranks by 8,000 to 10,000 servicemembers a year for the past six to seven years, Holloway said, noting his service now is close to reaching its designed end-strength goal of about 329,000 sailors.

    US Marine Corps End Strength

    In early 2007 the president approved the request for the Marine Corps to grow from its then-current end strength of 175,000 marines to 202,000. The Marine Corps announced it would "Grow the Force" to the end strength of 202,000 by 2011. Initial planning for Grow the Force began in December 2006. The Marine Corps' active duty end strength was more than 200,700 in December 2009, at which time it was expected to reach the 202K goal by October 2010. The operational tempo of the Long War had resulted in strain on Marines and on the Corps as an institution. The first task was be to build three new infantry battalions and the required supporting structure - approximately 4,000 Marines. Afterwards, the marines would then grow by approximately 5,000 marines per year. The goal was to achieve a 1:5 deployment-to-dwell ratio for reserve units, and 1:2 deployment-to-dwell ratio for active component units This would ensure that for every seven months a Marine is deployed, he or she would be home for at least 14 months. The Marine Corps grew by over 12,000 Marines in fiscal year 2008. In fiscal year 2008, the Marine Corps reenlisted 16,696 Marines including 8,423 first term Marines.

    Personnel End Strength - August 2005

    FY2005ActiveMobilized *GuardSelected
    TOTAL 1,415,600 210,252 456,800 404,100 680,466 2,923,966
    DOD ----- ----- ----- ----- 106,000 106,000
    Army 512,400 148,442 350,000 205,000 218,000 1,285,400
    Navy 365,900 6,508 ----- 83,400 193,466 642,766
    Marines 178,000 9,717 ----- 39,600 ----- 217,600
    Air Force 359,300 45,585 106,800 76,100 163,000 705,200
    * FY2004 Supplemental for Guard & Reserve called to active duty, Non-Add
    ** Does not include non-drilling Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)

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