The U.S. Army is facing some hefty budget cuts (at least 5-10 percent over the next decade). Linked with growing costs (for equipment, supplies, and wages) makes this cut even larger. For example, over the next decade defense spending will decline from 3.6 percent to 2.8 percent of GDP. The current army solution is to cut manpower by 80,000 over the next decade, and this will result in a reduction of combat brigades to as few as 32 (from the current 45) and total strength of 490,000 troops.
These cuts are nothing new as army leaders have seen it coming for some time. Three years ago, despite major combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army went through a major reorganization. The end result was the increase in the number of combat brigades from 33 to 48 (soon reduced to 45 because of budget cuts). This required the transfer of over 40,000 people from combat-support jobs to the combat brigades. In doing this, the army got some experience in reducing personnel strength without losing capability. Most of this reset was completed, with all the new brigades ready for service by 2010.
Five years ago, Congress ordered the army to increase its strength by 65,000 troops, and the army planned to add five more combat brigades. The army completed that personnel expansion, to 574,000 troops by 2009, but budget cuts reduced the combat brigade expansion.