Army may lose 100K soldiers
WASHINGTON — The Army would be slashed by more than 100,000 soldiers to a force of 420,000 by 2019 under budget plans set to be unveiled next month. It is a level far below what Army leaders have said they would need to ensure they can fight one major war.
The Army has 528,000 soldiers and had been scheduled to drop to 490,000 troops by 2019. The 420,000 level reflects Pentagon planning based on automatic budget cuts that will reduce military spending by about $500 billion over the decade unless Congress restores the funding.
This fall, Army chief of staff Gen. Raymond Odierno warned top Pentagon officials in a briefing that a force of 450,000 soldiers would be “too small” and at “high risk to meet one major war,” according to documents obtained by USA Today. The Army could not adequately protect the country and fight abroad at 420,000 soldiers, the documents stated.
Since then, the chiefs of the services have been told to list the missions they won't be able to accomplish with diminished budgets, a senior Pentagon official said on condition of anonymity because the budget will not be released for weeks.
For the Army, a force of 420,000 means that it could respond to a conflict, such as one on the Korean peninsula, but won't be able to keep up the fight for long without a significant call up of reserve forces, said another senior military officer who also spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.
The other services will be reduced in size as well. The Navy will be able to continue to shift its focus to the Pacific but with far fewer ships, and its presence in the Persian Gulf will be lessened.
Even at the reduced numbers, the military is more than a match for any potential foe, said Gordon Adams, a professor at American University and a budget official in the Clinton Administration.
“Who else that we are going to fight in a ground war has 420,000 soldiers?” Adams said in an e-mail. “Silly, really. Of course, we can.”
If long-term budget cuts are rolled back, the services won't have to cut so deeply into their troop levels. The Pentagon forecasts significant shortfall in its budgets for the next several years. In the current fiscal year, it sought $526 billion for costs that did not include the war in Afghanistan. The budget cuts known as “sequestration” would have lowered that to $475 billion. A budget deal in Congress restored some funds, giving the Pentagon $496 billion.
The shrinking budget has resulted in jockeying by the services to secure the most funding. Last month, for example, a National Guard leader said the Army could be cut to 420,000 soldiers if the Guard was allowed to expand.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hitchhiking robot’s journey west cut short in Philly
- Obama orders steeper emission cuts from power plants
- Who wins, who loses under stricter power plant limits
- Congress targets Stingray cellphone data monitors
- West Virginia on pace to issue record number of concealed-carry permits
- Feds accuse Philadelphia congressman Fattah of corruption
- Defense memo reveals plan to protect transgender troops
- 2 women advance to final phase of Army Ranger training
- Marines finally ready to roll out controversial fighter jet
- State Department accuses top Clinton aide of violations
- GOP leaders aloof as Texas Attorney General Paxton indicted for securities fraud