Advertisement

US slashes 24,000 army jobs as recruitment crisis bites

The US army is organised around having up to 494,000 soldiers, but at present there are 445,000 active-duty soldiers
The US army is organised around having up to 494,000 soldiers, but at present there are 445,000 on active duty - BO ZAUNDERS/CORBIS

The US army is slashing 24,000 jobs amid a recruitment struggle that has seen the force fail to meet targets for almost a decade.

The cuts, which amount to almost 5 per cent of its total workforce, are focused on vacant posts and not soldiers.

The service is “significantly over structured” and there are not enough soldiers to fill existing units, according to an army document outlining the overhaul.

Under current plans, the army is organised around having up to 494,000 soldiers, but at present there are 445,000 soldiers on active duty.

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 planning document said the cuts would be to “spaces” not “faces” and soldiers would not be asked to leave the force.

A swathe of the jobs axed are related to counter-insurgency that swelled during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars but are less relevant to today’s threats.

Around 3,000 of the cuts are signposted to come from army special operations forces.

The Us army also plans to add around 7,500 troops in other critical missions, including air defence and counter-drone units, and five new task forces with enhanced cyber, intelligence and long-range strike capabilities.

The move reflects the reality that for years the army been unable to fill thousands of empty posts. Christine Wormuth, the army secretary, said last year the army had not met its annual goal for new enlistment contracts since 2014.

In the last financial year, the US navy, army and air force all failed to meet their recruitment goals. The army brought in just over 50,000 recruits, falling short of the stated “stretch goal” of 65,000.

Over time, the military’s focus has shifted to power competition from adversaries such as China and Russia, and threats from Iran and North Korea.