WASHINGTON — The Army on Wednesday disclosed its plans for complying with a headquarters reorganization demanded by Congress, describing the moves as the most significant since the end of World War II.
Army Secretary John O. Marsh Jr. said the changes will result in a 15% reduction in the Army's military and civilian staffs at the Pentagon, eliminating 548 jobs.
The staffs of major Army commands in the field also will be reduced by about 1,700 people, or 10%, Marsh said.
The Army believes it can streamline its staff without firing any civilian workers, he added. Military officers affected by the changes will be moved into the field with operational units.
The military services are under orders from Congress to streamline their headquarters operations under a reorganization law approved last year.
The law dictates several major changes, including merging of military and civilian offices within each service that previously had separate roles in the development and purchase of new weapons.
Although the military offices within each service that deal with weapons acquisition have ultimately reported to civilian superiors, they have done so through the service's top military officer, the chief of staff.
Under the reorganization, the military and civilian offices are to be merged and report directly to the service's civilian secretary.
The Air Force announced two weeks ago that its reorganization will eliminate about 2,000 jobs from the staffs of its commands. The Navy announced this week that the reorganization will eliminate about 1,600 jobs.
In the case of the Army, Marsh said the merger of military and civilian offices will produce a major shift in the composition of the headquarters' staff.
Besides reducing the overall number of jobs from 3,653 to 3,105, the percentage of military officers on the staff reporting directly to the Army's chief of staff will decline to 70% from 89%, he said.
Gen. John A. Wickham, Army chief of staff, expressed support for the reorganization moves but predicted: "We're going to be fine-tuning this for several years.
"This is the most significant reorganization of the Army staff since World War II," he said. "And it is not going to be (done) without turbulence."