McConville: Army active-duty end strength should be 'somewhere around' 540K

By Jaspreet Gill / March 25, 2021 at 3:17 PM

The Army's chief of staff said today he thinks the service's active-duty end strength needs to be increased by at least 55,000 soldiers if the Army could afford it.

"I would have a bigger . . . sized Army if I thought we could afford it, I think we need it, I really do," Gen. James McConville said during a virtual Brookings Institution event. "I think the regular Army should be somewhere around 540-550 [thousand] . . . So, we're sitting right now at 485,000."

The service’s planned end strength in its fiscal year 2021 request to Congress is 486,000 soldiers, minus 100 soldiers transferring to the Space Force.

McConville during a Defense Writer’s Group event March 12 said despite growing pressure on the defense budget, he does not see a cut to the Army’s end strength this year. Last month, he said the service was ready to make "necessary compromises" if the budget is cut by putting modernization programs behind on cost, performance and schedule first on the chopping block.

“There’s other things I’d like to do, but what I kind of have looked at is, I’ve probably already had to give up the growth that we're going to have planned in the Army because we do go flatline” in the future budget, he said today. “So that is kind of on the table right now. We’re probably not going to grow the Army even though I’d like to, more, because end strength is something we have to take a look at.”