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Reserve Components to Cut 16,000 Positions

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 1996 – DoD will inactivate hundreds of reserve component units across the country, cutting nearly 16,000 people by Sept. 30, according to a recent Pentagon announcement.

"This is the third year of a five-year restructuring plan, so we consider this a fairly routine year with fewer personnel cuts and inactivations than there were during the first couple of years," said a reserve affairs spokesperson.

Secretary of Defense William Perry said reserve-component downsizing results from changing defense requirements of the post-Cold War world.

"This strategy continues to strive to protect personnel readiness while our forces 'rightsize' to achieve the fiscal 1999 target structure," Perry said. "Readiness remains my top concern. In the future, we'll have a smaller force structure, but it will be one that is highly ready and well-equipped."

The reductions will free resources to pay for other quality of life initiatives such as employer and family support and initial-entry and duty training, Perry noted.

The fiscal 1996 reductions comply with strength levels established through the Bottom-up Review, which provided DoD and the military services with the strategy and force structure adjustments required to meet a post-Cold War threat, officials said.

DoD has three priorities in restructuring:
- To enhance force readiness with an increased reliance on the reserve components;
- To protect people -- whenever possible, service members will be transferred to other units; however, transition benefits authorized by Congress will take care of reservists leaving the forces; and
- The drawdown is being managed to minimize the impact on the states' ability to respond to domestic emergencies.

Whenever possible, personnel from inactivating units will be reassigned to other reserve component units within a reasonable distance from their residence. If there is no position available, the individual will be separated with the appropriate transition benefits, officials said.

"Individuals who decline the new assignment will be involuntarily separated without transition benefits," a spokesperson said.

Transition benefits include separation pay, special separation pay, early retirement at age 60 and continuation of education benefits under the Montgomery GI bill. Benefits also include limited commissary and post exchange privileges and priority placement benefits for those who are involuntarily separated due to inactivation or reorganization of units.

Individuals enrolled in a GI Bill program at the time of involuntary separation will continue to receive the benefits, officials noted. DoD will grant waivers to those required to serve a certain number of years in exchange for education benefits.

Reservists and guardsmen who enlisted or re-enlisted for a bonus or the Student Loan Repayment Program, will no longer receive payments if their units are inactivated, officials said.

Weapons and equipment at inactivated units will be redistributed to other units, officials said. #END#

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