Army May Cut Active Duty Force from 570,000 to 420,000

The Department of the Army has released its Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment (SPEA).  The Army completed a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) in 2013.  Since that time, Department of Defense (DoD) fiscal guidance has continued to change and the initial projected cuts from 570,000 Soldiers to 490,000 are looking far more grim.  The Army is now studying the possible effects of nearly doubling those cuts to an Army end strength of 420,000 Active Duty Soldiers in order to operate on a significantly reduced budget.

While the Army will attempt to reduce its force size through normal attrition (i.e. retirements, voluntary separations, and reduced accessions) thousands of Army enlisted Soldiers and Officers will face involuntary separation.  Nearly all Army installations will witness additional reductions to their force numbers.  The current SPEA, however, specifically identifies installations that could experience reductions of 1,000 or more Soldiers and Army civilians.  The Army report can be found at

According to Defense Department officials nearly 3,000 officers are expected to be laid off.  Among those to receive pink slips are Army leaders currently serving in Afghanistan.  In the coming months, enlisted Soldiers and Officers, alike, will face possible separation due to budget cuts.  Unfortunately, this means many Soldiers who have good service records, and who are fully qualified for continued service, will have to leave active duty because of severe budget cuts.

Because even high performing Soldiers are at risk of being eliminated, it is important that Soldiers ensure that their Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) is up to date and presents the best possible snapshot of that Soldier’s career.  Every Soldier needs to check that their DA photo is current and that their Officer Record Brief or Enlisted Record Brief accurately reflects their assignment record, service data, security data, education (both civilian and military), awards and commendations, personal data, and foreign language skills, if any.

Depending on the type of separation, a Soldier may be entitled to Separation Pay.  However, if a Soldier is being separated for misconduct, poor performance, and/or derogatory information contained in their OMPF that Soldier may see their career end with no chance of separation or retirement pay.

If you are served with notice of possible administrative separation under Army Regulation (AR) 635-200 or AR 600-8-24 it is important to speak with an attorney immediately.  Soldiers facing involuntary separation are entitled to free representation by an appointed Judge Advocate serving in the Trial Defense Services of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.  Considering the seriousness of early separation and how it may affect your future employability and retirement prospects, you may also choose to hire a private, civilian attorney with prior military experience to represent you at a separation board hearing.


*Caleb Smith (Licensed only in PA)