WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Pentagon plans to scale back the United States (US) Army by more than an eighth to its lowest level since before World War II, signaling a shift after more than a decade of ground wars.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended shrinking US forces from 520,000 active duty troops to between 440,000 and 450,000.
In a speech outlining the proposed defense budget, he said that after Iraq and Afghanistan, military leaders no longer plan to “conduct long and large stability operations.”
If approved by Congress, the move would reduce the army to its lowest levels since 1940, before the American military dramatically expanded after entering World War II.
The proposed 13 percent re–duction in the army would be carried out by 2017, a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
The spending plan is the first to “fully reflect” a transition away from a war footing that has been in place for 13 years, Hagel said, adding it was time to “reset” military spending for a new era.
The move comes amid growing fiscal pressures and after years of protracted counter-insurgency campaigns, which saw the army reach a peak of more than 566,000 troops in 2010.
US troops have already withdrawn from Iraq and President Barack Obama has promised to end America’s combat role in Afghanistan by the end of this year.
The Pentagon had previously planned to downsize the ground force to about 490,000.
But Hagel warned that to adapt to future threats “the army must accelerate the pace and increase the scale of its post-war drawdown.”
Hagel also said the army national guard and reserves would be cut by 5 percent.