Maj. Gen. James Milano, Fort Jackson Commanding General

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- We have done this many times throughout our history, and we will do it again in the future. What you need to remember is that there remains a great opportunity to make the Army a career.

Based on the fiscal year 2013 budget submission, which has not been approved yet, the active duty Army will be reduced by approximately 80,000 Soldiers to 490,000 by 2017. This will be a slow process, allowing us to take advantage of the attrition that will happen naturally. And, this proposed reduction addresses the active Army only; none of the current force reductions call for cuts in Reserve and National Guard manning.

The Army has already begun drawing down from 570,000 Soldiers, and predictions are that the reduction in Soldiers should be around 13,400 by the middle of 2013. The current budget request allocates $42.8 billion for Army personnel in 2013. That's a reduction of $4 billion from this year and $12.5 billion from 2011. As you can see from these numbers, and regardless of the budget numbers Congress eventually approves, there will be some fiscal belt-tightening within all branches of services.

Our Army will become smaller, but the quality of the force will unquestionably improve. We need to tap into the great levels of leadership and combat experience of Soldiers at all levels and retain those Soldiers and leaders who possess the greatest potential to continue to serve. This is a point that the sergeant major of the Army reiterated during his recent visit to Fort Jackson. In all honesty, there will be some situations in which we will be asking some Soldiers to leave, who, in the past, we might have asked to stay on, consistent with the Army leadership's recently released retention guidance. Ultimately, those Soldiers who continue to meet the Army's standards and demonstrate the greatest potential for continued service will have the best opportunity for continued service.

Our Army is a great one and to maintain our edge we need to do everything within our means to retain the experience and knowledge that we have groomed. Seasoned Soldiers who are excelling will have unobstructed opportunities to continue to excel.

This fact has not escaped the Army chief of staff, GEN Raymond Odierno, who has said that one of his main goals is to ensure that younger Soldiers have the avenues to develop for the future. Many young Soldiers have proven themselves in the past 10 years during their deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. GEN Odierno wants to make sure that these Soldiers continue to be challenged when they return and that they are given responsibilities and opportunities to grow.

Despite the economic challenges that we face in 2012 and beyond, we will continue to work hard and adapt so that we maintain our readiness and edge. During this period of downsizing, there are a number of initiatives that the Army has embraced that will be maintained, to include a renewed focus on leadership and professionalism, a redesign of the Army's core structure, and a reemphasis on discipline and adherence to standards.

Our Army will get even better than it already is -- and, remember, we have the greatest Army in the world, and our leadership, and you, will keep it that way as we move forward. There should be no hand wringing -- quality Soldiers and leaders who adhere to standards and demonstrate the kind of discipline we all want in our force will continue to be the bedrock of our Army.

Army Strong and Victory Starts Here!

Page last updated Thu March 8th, 2012 at 11:43