Starting March 1, soldiers wishing to reenlist in the Army will face greater competition as the Army lowers the number of soldiers they retain, according to information released by Army officials.

The Army plans to reduce its force size by 67,000 soldiers over the next five years, according to a web article written by Sgt. Maj. Daniel Blashill, Fort Irwin command career counselor. Blashill was not available for further comment Tuesday.

Fort Irwin commanders have not yet been told how many soldiers they will be able to reenlist this year, Fort Irwin public affairs officer Donald Ross wrote in an e-mail.

Commanders are instructed to use the "whole person" concept when determining which soldiers should stay, Blashill wrote. They will look at a soldier's competencies, leadership potential, adherence to standards, duty performances and ability to serve in any military occupation.

"Tough decisions are ahead," Blashill wrote. "Some fully-qualified soldiers will be denied reenlistment."

The reasons the Army is scaling down include budget cuts, the end of the Iraqi war , and Defense Strategic Guidance issued by President Barack Obama, Blashill wrote.

For those denied reenlistment, the Army Transition Program can help soldiers transition into the civilian workforce.

"Soldiers need to understand reenlistment is a privilege, not a right," Blashill wrote. "Soldiers need to be prepared for the years to come and ensure they are properly prepared to exit the Army if they are not selected for retention."

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