The Army’s latest headcount shows that nearly 2,600 soldiers departed active service in March without being replaced, an action that plunges manning to its lowest level since before World War II.
During the past year the size of the active force has been reduced by 16,548 soldiers, the rough equivalent of three brigades.
End strength for March was 479,172 soldiers, which is 154 fewer troopers than were on active duty when the Army halted the post-Cold War drawdown in 1999 with 479,424 soldiers, the smallest force since 1940, when the active component numbered 269,023 soldiers.
Barring unexpected delays, the Army is well-positioned to achieve, or exceed, its budgeted end-strength of 475,000 soldiers by Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2016.
Without congressional or Defense Department intervention, the drawdown will continue for two more years, with end strength hitting 460,000 soldiers in 2017, and 450,000 in 2018.
The latest official demographics from the Defense Manpower Data Center shows that in addition to the 479,172 soldiers who were on active duty April 1, the Army’s reserve forces totaled 548,024 soldiers, for a total force of 1,027,196 soldiers.
The drawdown master plan calls for a Total Army of 980,000 soldiers on Sept. 30, 2018.