Downsizing: Are the Right People Leaving and Staying?

  • Lieutenant Colonel Eric L. Jackson

During every past interwar period in our nation’s history there has been a drawdown of forces at conflict termination. However, the current interwar period falls during a time of persistent global conflict. Domestically, the armed forces are challenged by smaller budgets. These foreign threats and domestic political challenges have combined to create a requirement to properly execute a personnel drawdown that must be able to respond to today’s threats and be prepared to defeat tomorrow’s adversaries. As the Army downsizes to 440,000-450,000 active duty Soldiers, key questions remain as the Army marches towards this number. Is the drawdown being done correctly? Are the right people leaving and staying? Post separation board analysis suggests that some population subsets (based on commissioning source, branch, ethnicity, etc.) were more susceptible to involuntary separation than others. This paper offers assessments on whether the right people are staying and leaving. It also offers an assessment if this drawdown is being executed correctly. Lastly, it offers recommendations on how to obtain greater parity across all commissioning sources so that the entire officer corps can be strengthened.