Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of the United States, Canada and Mexico

Army Drawdown and Restructuring: Background and Issues for Congress*

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of the United States, Canada and Mexico

Army Drawdown and Restructuring: Background and Issues for Congress*

Article excerpt

Importance to Congress

The Administration's proposal to reduce the size of the Army as well as restructure units and headquarters has national security implications that Congress will need to consider as part of its oversight and authorizations and appropriations role. In terms of size of the force, Congress sets the endstrength for both the Active and Reserve components of the Army. Congress also authorizes and appropriates funds needed for Army restructuring, training exercises, equipment, basing, and infrastructure, as well as the various manpower management tools the Army could use to drawdown the force. Administration decisions about the structure of the Army can have a significant impact on Army bases in a Member's district or state, which can also have economic ramifications for communities around or near affected bases. The Administration's downsizing and restructuring proposals also can have a significant impact on local and state defense-related industries. Lastly, soldiers and their families who might be affected by the Administration's decisions constitute a unique element of Members' constituencies.

The Administration's Decision to Drawdown and Restructure the Army

Most experts would agree the Administration's decision to reduce the size of the Army was an outgrowth of its decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011 and the stated intent of handing over security responsibilities for Afghanistan to the Afghan government and Afghan National Army by the end of 2014. The United States has routinely drawn down forces upon the completion of a major conflict, eschewing a "large standing army" during peacetime- although it can be argued that in a post9/11 world, "peacetime" is a somewhat subjective term. A brief history of past Army drawdowns can be found at Appendix B.

Background

The foundation for the Army's drawdown and restructuring was laid in early 2011. A year later in January 2012, the Administration provided additional details on proposed force structure and global posture.

January 6, 2011, News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman Admiral Mullen1

On January 6, 2011, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen held a news briefing "announcing a number of decisions and measures that mark the next major step in this department's reform agenda." These decisions and measures, largely taken in response to fiscal pressures, involved a variety of cross-service actions, including consolidating and eliminating headquarters and organizations, modifying or eliminating weapon systems programs, and force reductions. Army force structure-specific actions included

* reduce Active Army endstrength by 27,000 troops starting in 2015, and

* acknowledgement there was "excess" force structure in Europe but no action would be taken until 2015 or without consultation with allies.

Secretary Gates noted the Army was also in the process of divesting itself of an additional 22,000 troops who were temporarily authorized in 2010 and this temporary endstrength would be eliminated by 2013. Combined with the 27,000 Active permanent endstrength reductions that will start in 2015, this represents a reduction of 49,000 Active Duty troops from FY2011 levels.

January 26, 2012, Administration Major Budget Decision Briefing2

On January 26, 2012, senior DOD leaders unveiled a new defense strategy, based on a review of the defense strategy at the time and budgetary constraints. This new strategy envisioned

* a smaller, leaner military that is agile, flexible, rapidly deployable, and technologically advanced;

* rebalancing global posture and presence, emphasizing where potential problems are likely to arise, such as the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East;

* maintaining presence elsewhere in the world (Europe, Africa, and Latin America), using innovative partnerships, strengthening key alliances, and developing new partnerships;

* being able to quickly confront and defeat aggression from any adversary anytime, anyplace; and

* protecting and prioritizing key investments in technology and new capabilities as well as the capacity to grow, adapt, mobilize, and surge when needed. …

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