Labor market, not budget, behind Army force-structure cuts

By Ethan Sterenfeld / March 29, 2022 at 10:43 AM

Budget pressures did not cause the Army's decision to cut end strength in the active-duty force by 12,000 soldiers in the fiscal year 2023 budget request, service Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo said March 28.

“I would just want to emphasize that this is not a budget-driven decision,” Camarillo said at a press conference for the rollout of the service’s budget request. “It’s about maintaining high quality of our talent and of our recruiting.”

The service decided to reduce its end strength from 485,000 soldiers to 476,000 in FY-22, and then to 473,000 in FY-23, he said. The Army plans to return to 485,000 soldiers over the course of the following five years.

Recruitment has become more difficult amid the tight labor market, especially for enlisted positions, Camarillo said.

“Like every other employer in the economy, we’re facing, obviously, some challenging conditions in terms of our ability to recruit and attract talent,” he said. “Given the particular conditions of a very tight labor market, our ability to meet all of our projected recruiting goals were a little bit challenged in FY-22 and ’23. So, we made the assessment that we would not want to adjust our specific criteria for quality.”