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Study: Troop cuts could hurt military diversity

Study: Troop cuts could hurt military diversity
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Troop cuts could reduce gains made in racial and gender diversity of the military since the 1990s, according to a new Rand Corporation study released Monday. 

The report, titled “Force Drawdowns and Demographic Diversity: Investigating the Impact of Force Reductions on the Demographic Diversity of the U.S. Military,” looked at multiple drawdown scenarios to examine the potential effects on women and racial minorities. 

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The cuts to "nontactical operations" jobs could have an adverse effect on female and black service members, and in some cases, Hispanic service members, the study said. 

Cuts involving troops with longer service could adversely affect black personnel, but cuts to troops with shorter service could adversely affect women, the study also said. 

Tightening test standards as part of a strategy to cut recruitment could result in adverse impact on female, black and Hispanic recruits, it also found. 

Under budget pressure, the Army is planning to reduce from about 490,000 currently to 450,000 by the end of 2017, and possibly to 420,000 by 2019 — creating the smallest Army since before World War II. 

The Marine Corps and the Air Force are also planning workforce reductions, although they will be smaller. 

“During major drawdown periods, the services must balance reducing the budget, ensuring fair treatment for current service members and retaining people with the right skills,” said Maria C. Lytell, lead author of the study and a senior behavioral scientist at Rand. 

“One aspect that hasn’t been factored in much during past drawdowns is retaining a demographically diverse workforce," she said. 

The cuts are expected to rely more on separations versus lowering recruitment as with previous drawdowns in the 1990s. 

The services are limited in how they can use demographic information in the cuts. 

Research for the study was sponsored by the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.