About 500 Army majors, some of them now serving in Afghanistan, will begin receiving notices next week that they must leave the service as the Army cuts troop strength to meet budget cuts, the outgoing Army vice chief of staff said Friday.
"We don't want to do this," but the Army has no choice under the constraints of the Budget Control Act and the Congressional sequester process, said Gen. John F. Campbell.
Many of the 1,100 captains who were cut earlier this month were serving in Afghanistan and "the same thing probably will happen with some of these majors," said Campbell, who has been confirmed by the Senate to take command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Reductions in force are always difficult, Campbell said, but informing "the ones that are deployed is certainly the hardest."
Earlier this month, the Army said that at least 48 of the 1,100 captains handed "pink slips" had been serving in Afghanistan.
Campbell spoke at an off-camera briefing with reporters that was his last as vice chief at the Pentagon. He was taking a brief leave before reporting to Afghanistan later this month to replace Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford as ISAF commander.
Immediately following Campbell's briefing, the Army put out a release stating that majors receiving notices who are now serving in Afghanistan or other areas overseas "will be returned to the United States within 30 days of their notification to begin their transition from active duty and ensure they have the maximum time and resources available for a successful transition."
The cutbacks were part of the Army's plan "to draw down its end-strength to 490,000 active-component soldiers by the end of Fiscal Year 2015," the statement said.
The so-called "hit list" for the 500 majors was determined by decisions of recent Officer Separation Boards and Enhanced Selective Retirement Boards, the Army said.
The Army suggested that more cuts were coming: "As a result of future budget restrictions previously passed by Congress, the active Army will further reduce its end-strength by 20,000 Soldiers in both 2016 and 2017" to an Army force of about 450,000, the Army statement said.
Campbell said there were opportunities for majors transitioning out of the active-duty service to take positions in the Reserves and the National Guard.
The Army also pointed to the new "Shifting Gears" partnership of the Army, Raytheon and General Motors to allow transitioning troops to receive training and possibly be placed in service technician jobs at GM dealerships.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at email@example.com