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Growing Down -- Increasing Diversity as the Army Gets Smaller

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Research paper

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The armed services, particularly the Army, have demonstrated their ability to rapidly increase their end-strength during times of crisis or national emergency to meet the Department of Defenses DoD operational requirements. However, when civilian leaders determine that there is no longer a requirement for a large standing force, the militarys ability to reduce in size has not been so effective. Strategic leaders must accomplish the militarys primary mission of keeping the nation secure by maintaining a high state of readiness within a congressionally established cap on the total number of personnel authorized to remain in the service. This Strategy Research Project SRP offers a comprehensive review of Army downsizing in the 1970s after the Vietnam War, and the subsequent drawdown following the Cold War arms race, which ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. As the military prepares to undergo another era of downsizing, both Army and National Guard senior leaders must take a hard look at what the force looks like now and how we want it to look when we reach the directed end-strength. This paper analyzed previous Army draw downs, noting the impacts on minorities after the effort was achieved. Following the Vietnam War, the Army was left disjointed and hollow. However, the build down of the late 1980s and 1990s sought to shape the smaller Army for improved readiness and diversity. The results, though not ideal, were a significant improvement from the previous downsizing. As the Army prepares to draw down once again, strategic leaders must ensure that the force is fully prepared to meet the challenges of the future. And they must realize that a service in which all its members are allowed to realize their fullest potential, and in which they are developed to achieve their greatest potential, is a force that will be well-prepared to protect the nation, and when called upon, fight and win its wars.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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