U.S. Army to Cut 40K Soldiers: Why That's Not a Surprise

The largest layoffs in the U.S. aren't coming from failing companies and businesses. Rather, they're coming from the military.

In a forthcoming report, the U.S. Army will reportedly cut 40,000 soldiers over the next two years. These cuts are needed to comply with new Congressional budget constraints and could be the first of several troop reductions in the next few years.

For the soldiers who lose their jobs and families dependent on a military income, these cuts are certainly disruptive. Few, if any, military bases will be unaffected by the troop reduction. But the announcement shouldn't come as a surprise.

Using data from the Defense Manpower Data Center, a division of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, InsideGov broke down active U.S. military troop strength over time. As the graph below shows, troops in all four branches of the military have been declining since 2010. The Army alone has cut nearly 60,000 soldiers in the last four years.

Similarly, the Obama Administration has been scaling back the number of U.S. soldiers deployed overseas. The time series chart below shows the dropping number of U.S. troops abroad. Note the reduction in military personnel from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The reduction in U.S. troops is not a response to greater international stability--developments with Ukraine, Syria and ISIS would suggest otherwise--but rather a symptom of escalating U.S. debt.

Congress and the Obama Administration have deemed military cuts a necessary part of balancing the budget. The graphic below shows the historic and expected government expenses up to 2020.

While spending on Social Security and health care has ballooned over the last 20 years, the national defense budget has steadily shrunk. The trend is clear: military cuts have been a reality in the U.S. for the last five years. The matter at hand is how to support the communities and soldiers affected.