According to an article in Defensenews.com, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said late last year that the Army must soon reduce its numbers by 80,000 personnel and as many as 16,000 of those could be by involuntary separation. The reductions are coming because of the ending of the American combat presence in Iraq and the projected withdrawal of the majority of combat troops now in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
However, he also said that if Congress could not reach an agreement on the budget and the so-called “sequestration” goes into effect, another 80,000 to 100,000 troops would have to be cut, bringing the total force down to 400,000 personnel. Although he didn’t say how many additional troops would have to be involuntarily separated in that circumstance, it no doubt would be the vast majority of them.
The main focus of the involuntary separations will be staff sergeants in 58 military occupational specialties. Personnel with 15 years of service but less than 20 will be eligible for TERA — Temporary Early Retirement Authority. Soldiers who retire under TERA have the same retirement benefits as 20 year retirees, except that their retirement pay is reduced accordingly.