WASHINGTON â€” BetweenÂ 10,000 to 14,000 soldiers could lose their jobs as the Army reduces ranks by 40,000 positions over the next two years, the Army chief of staff told reporters Friday.Â
The number is three to four times higher than the 3,000 soldiers who Â lost their jobs during an initial thinning of the ranks last year.Â
Gen. Ray Odierno, who complained that the cutbacks would hurt the Army’s ability to respond quickly to crises, said efforts would be taken to reduce the numbers of soldiers “we might have to ask to leave,” with such steps as reducing the influx ofÂ new recruits brought into the Army.Â
But he said it was likely that 5,000 to 8,000 officers and 5,000 to 6,000 sergeants of various grades would be let go during the force reduction.Â
The reductions will leave the Army with a force of 450,000. If automatic budget cuts known as sequestration take place as expected in October, the Army would lose anotherÂ 30,000 positions.
“Our ability to respond slows down,” Odierno said.Â “We’re not going to be able to do everything we’re being asked to do.”
He said that the force reduction might elicit reactions from rival nations.
“I worry that some people might perceive that our ability to respond could be degraded, which would embolden them to do things,” he said. “If we send the Â wrong message, we could have miscalculations. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin could miscalculate. North Korea could miscalculate.”
Odierno said that in reviewing those soldiers who might be let go, commanders will try to avoid those who faced reviews during the last round layoffs in 2014. He said that over the past three years, the Â Army has reduced its number of generals by 35.Â