It’s fairly normal for a component’s end strength to go up or down every fiscal year depending on the needs of the Department of Defense. Congress also gives the Secretary of Defense the leeway to increase the end-strength by 3% throughout the year. What I can’t seem to find is the authorization for a component to hack off 7% of their end strength in the middle of the year simply to meet quota. However, that’s exactly what the Army Reserve did.
On Oct. 28, 2022, the Reserve was at 92.8% of their end strength quota of 189,500 soldiers. On May 5, 2023, their end strength changed to 177,000. Miraculously, they’re now at 99.9% of their quota. Amazing! (Winning races is a lot easier if you move the finish line closer.) All of these recruiting woes the Army has been suffering as of late, and all they had to do was change the number. Except, that’s not legal.
According to this paper authored by the Congressional Research Service, “the Secretary of Defense can increase the active component end strength of any Armed Force above the authorized end-strength by up to 3%.” They go on to say “recruiting and retention shortfalls may cause one or more of the Armed Forces to fall below their minimum authorized strength.” While it appears that it’s acceptable to not meet recruiting goals as outlined by the end strength, it’s definitely not acceptable to use your white out pen on the numbers and write in whatever feels more appropriate.
The icing on the cake in this report is that the already bloated number of General Officers went from 121 to 125. I can’t think of anything more hilarious and appropriate for a force that can’t get people to join it, somehow maintaining their employment while continuously breaking the law, than rewarding its senior officers with promotions. The circus is short on animal handlers and people to shovel the crap, but instead they decided to hire more clowns!