WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army plans to reduce its number of soldiers by nearly 50,000 during a five-year span, a general said.
The Army Times reported Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, service personnel chief, said the reductions would being in March.
The Army will cut forces in various ways, including buyouts, voluntary and involuntary separations and retirements, to bring the total to 520,400 active-duty soldiers by Sept. 30, 2016, the report said.
Bostick said the Army would focus first on the temporary 22,000-soldier increase started three years ago to support the troop surge in Afghanistan. A second phase will involve soldiers added during an expansion that began in 2007.
"We feel that with the demand going down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and given the time to conduct a reasonable drawdown, we can manage [the force reduction] just as we have managed drawdowns in the past," Bostick said.
The Times said the Army has asked Congress to reinstate some separation incentives, including financial ones, that had been used in the 1990s but have since expired.
"We are currently reviewing the lessons drawn from the 1990s as captured in reports by the Army, Congressional Budget Office and the other services to ensure that we retain as much experience as possible from the ongoing conflicts [in Iraq and Afghanistan]," a member of Bostick's staff said.
"As in the 1990s, the Army may need to conduct involuntary separations to meet mandated end-strength, but we will do everything we can to shape the force through competitive promotions, reclassifications and voluntary separations before we take harsher measures," the official said.