The United States Army will eliminate 24,000 positions: it doesn't have enough soldiers to fill the vacancies

AP

The United States Army will reduce the size of its force by about 24,000 positions, or nearly 5%, to better combat future wars, as the service struggled to attract enough recruits to fill all vacancies.

The cuts will primarily target already vacant positions—not current soldiers—especially in areas like counterinsurgency that expanded significantly during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but are no longer as essential. Around 3,000 cuts will be made in special operations forces.

At the same time, the plan will add about 7,500 personnel in other areas such as air defense, counter-drone defense, and five special task forces worldwide, with increased capabilities in cyber, intelligence, and long-range attacks.

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According to an Army document, there are not enough soldiers to fill the existing positions, and the cuts emphasize that these are positions, not human beings, and the Army is not laying off anyone.

Instead, the decision reflects the reality that the Army has been unable to fill thousands of vacancies for years. While the Army, in its current structure, can have up to 494,000 soldiers, the total number of active-duty military currently stands at around 445,000. Under the new plan, the goal is to increase the number to 470,000 in the next five years.

The restructuring comes after two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, which forced the Army to rapidly and drastically expand to fill brigades deployed to the front lines. This included a massive mission to combat Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the extremist group Islamic State.

Over time, the Army's focus has shifted more towards competition with rivals like China and Russia, as well as threats from Iran and North Korea. The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the need for a greater emphasis on air defense systems and technological capabilities for the use and response to drones launched from land or sea.

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Army leaders say they carefully assessed the entire organizational structure of the branch to decide where to make cuts. They examined existing efforts to modernize the Army with new high-tech weapons to determine where new forces should be deployed.

According to the plan, the Army will reduce about 10,000 positions for engineers or similar jobs linked to counter-subversion missions. Another 2,700 cuts will be made in units that are not typically deployed and can be downsized, and 6,500 will be in training and other positions.