scription. One of the most effective controls over the organization is the Army's annual budget, which is approved by Congress each year and affects the authorized number and distribution of personnel. The adoption or elimination of weapon systems can likewise affect the occupational distribution of soldiers, as do congressional decisions regarding the Army's missions, structure, or function. The budget process allows for a level of subcategory specification that targets specific programs or operations; staffing of these operations must frequently be accomplished by diverting personnel from other programs, rather than by adding new personnel to the organization.
The Army's post-cold war downsizing is in some respects closer to the personnel cuts in other public or private organizations than it is to armies of previous eras, which demobilized largely conscripted forces after the conclusion of a major war (McCormick, 1998). This relates to the fact that service in the Army has been entirely voluntary since the end of America's involvement in the Vietnam war. The end of conscription and the later conclusion of the cold war have also been identified as seminal events in transforming the very nature of the U.S. armed forces. Since 1987, the Army's active-duty force has been reduced by more than one-third and the budget has decreased by 40 percent.
The reduction of the force called for at the end of the cold war was guided by four principles: protecting quality, shaping the force, maintaining personnel readiness, and demonstrating care and compassion (McCormick, 1998). The need for "force shaping" was driven by the understanding (mentioned above) that the Army would basically be stuck with the results of the reduction-in-force for a long time. Thus, the downsizing was aimed at maintaining the "experience content" of the force, gauged in terms of years in service (Timenes, 1996); a great effort was made to ensure that the loss of personnel would be proportional within all categories of soldiers by their years of service, across certain broad skill areas. Programs and policies for force reduction also attempted to ensure that the vast majority of people leaving the