The inevitability of a smaller military is beginning to settle in across the Department of Defense. With the impending end of the second counterinsurgent war and fiscal cuts that accompany it, the services must live within the means of their dwindling budgets and the quickest way to do so is to reduce the number of people who are drawing pay and benefits. In the system that is our military industrial complex the variable cost of personnel is the management tool of choice to reduce costs because of the fixed nature of weapon, infrastructure, and systems contracts. It is far easier to trim the number of people in uniform than it is to break a contract for a weapon system or a construction project.
As I have written previously the reduction of personnel is completely understandable and necessary. When there are no wars to actively fight the necessity for a military big enough to fight one becomes an untenable and costly argument that will always lose to other domestic priorities. With the end of war comes the need for the DOD to shrink.
The services are all wrestling with how to reduce their respective endstrengths. Natural attrition through discharges and retirements, coupled with reductions in recruiting are one way to get smaller, but that is not enough. People who are currently serving need to go.
But who, exactly, gets the boot? The armed forces obviously want to keep their best people, so those who are not in that category become the low hanging fruit to be plucked from the manpower tree. The army has announced that it is going to be discharging convicted sex offenders (which is really a pretty good idea) and the services are cutting those who are overweight and cannot get into standards (which has resulted in a spike in liposuction for those who want to stay in but can’t meet standards).
So the word is out. If you are one of the apples hanging from the bottom branch of the tree you may want to take a hard look at your future in the service. You may be “picked” before you are ready if you don’t move up a few branches…