Army Reserve to retain current troop level

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The Army Reserve had been authorized to add 1,000 soldiers in fiscal 2013 but will remain at its current level of 205,000 troops due to budget constraints, Reserve officials say.

However, the force will likely lose 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers next year in order to absorb active-duty troops expected to leave the Army as it downsizes, Reserve spokesman Matthew Leas said.

The troop reductions will occur through attrition by not replacing soldiers who retire, slowing recruitment efforts and releasing reservists who do not meet fitness and attendance standards, Mr. Leas said.

Maj. Gen. Keith Thurgood, chief of staff for the Army Reserve and deputy commanding general for support, touted the change as an opportunity to retain the best warriors.

“Get rid of the ‘C’ players. If you’re not providing value, then we don’t need you in the United States Army,” Gen. Thurgood said Tuesday in an interview at the Reserve Officer Association conference in Washington, D.C.

“We need people in the future that are going to make a difference, and therefore, get rid of the deadwood,” mostly those soldiers who fail to meet physical fitness and academic standards, he said.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Thursday that 80,000 active-duty soldiers would likely be cut from the Army’s rolls under the new national military strategy.

Gen. Thurgood estimated that 60,000 to 70,000 of them eventually would like to transition into the Reserve.

“In order for us to absorb some of the great capabilities and capacities that the active force has but will be reducing over the next several years, this is a chance for us to absorb those folks that are higher quality, have a skill set that we need,” he said. “But we can’t do that because we don’t have anywhere to put them right now.”

Gen. Thurgood said the Reserve is “about half as expensive” as the active-duty Army, which he said has more overhead and a larger structure. Reservists do not need daycare centers, commissaries or special housing, he said.

Officials for other Reserve components made similar arguments during a panel discussion earlier Tuesday.

“The Reserve components represent a true bargain for the taxpayers,” said retired Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, former director of Reserve affairs for the Marine Corps.

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