In a new twist, which speaks highly towards the new Sergeant Major of the Army, SMA Dailey, the next cuts are going to target those non-deployable soldiers. Based on comments in November of this year, SMA Dailey brought to light what many of us had been thinking – that non-deployable soldiers were hurting the force.
At a time when the military is still being reduced, and after the first few cuts have been performed through separation and quality management boards, the low-hanging fruit has already been plucked. Those were the individuals with derogatory information on their records. Whether that meant UCMJ, letters of reprimand, DUIs, or any manner of poor decision-making in the past, many of them found themselves recommended for separation.
As the Army continues to downsize, attrition and completion of terms of service is not enough to reduce the numbers fast enough. The Army is now taking a look at the fruit on the next branch – non-deployable soldiers. Don’t let this term evoke misconceptions. These are not those individuals who were not selected for deployments, who volunteered and did not get the chance, or even those who hid out from deployments by continuously taking positions in TRADOC.
No, these are the individuals that are unable to deploy due to legal or medical reasons. Perhaps it is a profile that does not permit deploying, there are many examples. CENTCOM identifies many medical disqualifiers for deployment to the region. Anything that prevents the wear of body armor, conditions that prohibit the application of regional immunizations, or medical conditions that requires repeated clinical visits throughout the year all disqualify individuals from deployments. There are many specific instances as well to include types of diabetes, obstructed sleep apnea, HEP B, HEP C, HIV, or any other blood borne agents that may be transmitted to others is included as well.
Just how many people fall into the non-deployable categories? According to the SMA, approximately 50,000 soldiers, or nearly 10% of the force. That means that more than 14 entire Brigade Combat Teams can be filled up with just the non-deployables alone. Consider this from the perspective of the Company Commander. Perhaps they are authorized 140 soldiers. They likely have about 80% of that at any given time prior to deployment, so nearly 112 soldiers on hand. Consider if another 10% of these individuals were non-deployable. That puts the company down to approximately 100 soldiers before the first combat injury.
Those 10% of soldiers are a part of a fire team, a squad, and a platoon. They serve a function that the unit has trained around. When it comes time for the company to fly overseas and fight, they have to change their manning, and reposition leaders. Since many of these disqualifying conditions are not permitted for initial entry soldiers, the vast majority are likely those with a few years in at least, filling the ranks of Sergeant and above.
The SMA is right. The biggest threat to the military is the loss of expected combat power through non-deployable soldiers. So what are we going to do about it? The FY2016 early separation and retirement boards are going to take a good hard look at this population and determine what future, if any, they have in the military.
The counter-argument is simple; many of these non-deployable people became so through injuries sustained in the service to their country. Shouldn’t they be recognized and retained for their key knowledge and skill sets? The answer is simple to say and complex to discuss. The answer is no. The Active Duty Army is designed to defend the nation. If a service member cannot accomplish that task, or cannot deploy overseas to perform these actions, then they are a detriment to the unit. This is regardless of the technical knowledge that they possess. If they are such a needed commodity within the organization, perhaps they would be better in the National Guard, or as a civilian contractor. As cruel as it might sound to say this, if injuries sustained through military service make it impossible to continue to serve with and deploy on behalf of your country, then it is time to take a medical board and move onto a job that can be done.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.