As part of the draw-down of the military, the U.S. Army has marked a 506 senior noncommissioned officers for involuntary separation. According to Stars and Stripes, how many “senior NCOs identified under the Army’s Qualitative Service Program has increased by more than 310 percent over last year’s figures.” The QSP program began in 2012 with the express purpose of identifying enlisted leaders for separation as the military looks to cut its ranks by some 80,000 troops by 2018.
Deputy Chief of Staff for personnel Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg said in an email, “These Soldiers are otherwise fully qualified for continued service and their selection by this force shaping process in no way diminishes their contributions to the Army.” Yet in a separate statement, the Army said that they are looking to retain the soldiers “with the greatest potential for continued service.”
Upon notification of their selection for early separation, NCOs have eleven months to avail themselves of transition assistance programs for them and their families. Seeking to assuage concerns of those that are left, a press release from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno says that under “the hammer of sequestration” the “Army’s No. 1 priority in the budget continues to be leader development” of both officers and NCOs.
Still, Bromberg warned in his e-mail that the QSP numbers will continue to rise, suggesting that next year might call for 1,000 senior NCOs to leave the service. A separate program for officers will soon identify 2,000 for early retirement, which is a sweeter deal than the NCOs get. An officer with less than 15 years of service can receive separation pay, while those with over 15 years but under 20 can apply for an early retirement program.
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Gen. Odierno said that he is concerned if troop levels drop too low—his ideal number is 450,000 troops—that after the Army draws down “the end strength is really too small” in order for the Army to accomplish what’s expected of it.