Force Structure Changes Ahead

Force Structure Changes Ahead

Photo by: U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Effie Mahugh

The Army is “largely on track” with its transformation priorities, with some restructuring of the force required to be ready to fight and win future wars, Army leaders told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Continuing recruiting challenges make this a complicated and necessary adjustment, they said.

In their fourth and final congressional hearing focused on the Army’s current posture and the fiscal 2024 budget, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, who testified alongside Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, acknowledged that recruiting is a problem with wide implications.

“We are seeing improvements in our recruiting situation over last year,” she said at the May 2 hearing, but the Army likely won’t meet its recruiting target this year. The Army missed it goal last year as well, by about 15,000 recruits.

“We do not want a hollow Army,” Wormuth said. Army leaders have been reviewing potential changes in the size of units with the goal of “thinning out” some organizations based on priorities. First responder units need to be fully manned. Others may not, she said.

New systems coming online in the next 10 years will need to be staffed, while other systems could be streamlined, she said. “We would like to avoid major changes,” she said, adding that she expects to have a long-range plan ready for congressional review in a few months. No final decisions are required until 2025, but planning needs to begin now, she said.

McConville said some systems will be more important than others in future warfare, which will be part of the changes. The Army needs to remain ready to fight as the force structure adjustments are being made. “We are a ready Army, and we continue to emphasize readiness in everything we do,” said McConville, who will retire this summer.

The 2024 defense budget request pending before Congress includes $185.5 billion for the Army, a flat or slightly declining amount. The Army has provided Congress with a separate $1.9 billion list of unfunded priorities.

Wormuth said the budget request is enough for the current year, but future budgets must increase to cover costs for new systems. “I worry how we are going to manage the outyears,” she said, predicting that financial needs will arise in 2030 and beyond.