U.S. Army personnel cuts have led to job losses this summer for 1,188 captains and 550 majors who were hoping to make a career of their military service.
The Army has been reducing the size of its force, as required by a reduction in congressional funding, through attrition and low recruiting, reports The New York Times.
So far, low-ranking enlisted soldiers who have only been with the service for a few years have absorbed most of the cuts. However, this summer, the job losses affected officers, as well, with more expected to be forced out in 2015.
The Times mentions that for reasons the Army has not divulged, officers who have climbed up the ranks have been hit especially hard by the personnel reductions. Nearly one in five of the officers who have been cut began as an enlisted soldier.
“They are losing jobs, and in many cases, receiving smaller pensions than they had expected — or no pensions at all,” reports The New York Times. “They are being forced to give up their identities as soldiers. Some are losing their ranks or status as officers. All must be out by April.”
Some captains have urged lawmakers to pass a bill that could save their military careers or their pensions, but no one in Congress has introduced legislation to do that.
According to the article, the Army declined to describe in detail its criteria for forcing out officers.
In an effort to ease the transition out of the service, the Army has offered a sort of cash buyout of more than $100,000 at times and months of notice to give the officers ample opportunity to find another job.
Many officers “are being pushed out despite having good records,” added the article. “When the Army announced the impending officer cuts a year ago, officials said they would target officers with evidence of poor performance or misconduct.”
Dealing with budget reductions, the largest military service — the Army — cutits personnel this year from 530,000 to 508,000 troops. In 2015, an additional 20,000 are expected to be forced out.
If the sequestration funding cuts that Congress passed and President Obama signed into law continue, the Army may shrink to less than 450,000 soldiers by2019, bringing it to its pre-World War II size.