Army Shrinks Force by 23K Soldiers in 2016 Budget Proposal

U.S. soldiers show Ukrainian troops the proper procedures for clearing a room during Exercise Rapid Trident. (U.S. Army photo)
U.S. soldiers show Ukrainian troops the proper procedures for clearing a room during Exercise Rapid Trident. (U.S. Army photo)

The U.S. Army plans to slash another 15 thousand from its active force while funneling more money into guided missiles and its Humvee replacement program in its fiscal 2016 budget request announced Monday.

The service's $147 billion proposed budget is about $2 billion less than the $149 billion the Army received in last year's budget.

It reduces the active force from about 490,000 to 475,000 soldiers and puts a priority on existing weapons systems such as the AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, Stryker wheeled vehicle upgrades and Guided Multi Launch Rocket Systems.

A significant change in this year's budget is that the Overseas Contingency Account request is $20. 7 billion, compared to last year's $28.5 billion.

"The Army's 2016 OCO request is the smallest it has been in over a decade," said Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander, the Army's Budget director.

The $56.2 billion personnel budget would result in a total force of 1,015,000 soldiers – 475,000 in the active, 342,000 in the National Guard and 198,000 in the Reserve.

In addition to reducing the active force from 490,000 to 475,000 soldiers, the Army would cut the National Guard from 350,200 to 342,000 soldiers. The Reserve's end strength would remain unchanged.

The Army also plans to reorganize its force structure to 30 active brigade combat teams compared to last year's budget plan for having 32 active BCTs by 2016.

If mandatory defense-spending cuts under sequestration take effect in 2016, the service would have to accelerate the drawdown of the active force by another 5,000 soldiers, according to budget documents.

The Army is asking for $23.1 billion in modernization funding, an increase of $2.5 billion over last year.

The Army plans on spending more than $1.4 billion to upgrade 64 Apache helicopters and $1.12 billion to upgrade 39 Chinook helicopters. The budget proposal does cut some aviation investment by spending only $187.2 million to buy 28 UH-72 Lakota Light Utility helicopters in 2016 versus the last year's buy of 55 Lakota's for $401.6 million.

The Army will buy 372 Warfighter Information Network – Tactical systems, a sharp reduction from last year's purchase of 619 systems. But the budget invests $866.1 million in the program, compared to last year's funding level of $806.6 million.

The Army will spend $308.3 million to fund a second low-rate initial production contract for 450 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, a significant increase over last year's purchase of 184 JLTVs for $164.6 million.

The JLTV will eventually replace a portion of the Army's outdated Humvee fleet. The service plans to buy 49,000 JLTVs by 2041, Army budget officials said.

The budget funds the double-V hull upgrade to 62 Stryker wheeled vehicles at a cost of $667 million.

The Army also hopes to spend $268.6 million on 1,668 Guided Multi Launch Rocket Systems, compared to last year's buy of 774 of these long-range, precision strike missile systems.

Funding for science and technology programs such as the Joint Multi-Role Helicopter, High-Energy Lasers and alternatives to long-range precision fires remain roughly at fiscal 2015 funding levels.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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