U.S. News


Pentagon Plans To Shrink Army To Pre-WWII Level: Reports

Pentagon officials say the new defense budget proposal will shrink the size of the Army to its smallest force since before World War II.
Posted at 9:28 AM, Feb 24, 2014

​The Pentagon plans to shrink the size of U.S. Army to its smallest force since before World War II, according to reports. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's spending proposal, which is set to be officially announced Monday, was described to The New York Times in advance by several Pentagon officials on condition of anonymity. (Via WJLA)

According to those officials, the proposal calls for shrinking the U.S. Army down to its smallest force since before the World War II build up — about 450,000 troops. It would also eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets.

The Pentagon will also recommend a limit on military pay raises, higher fees for health-care benefits and lower housing allowances. It's all part of an attempt to save billions of dollars needed for other critical portions of U.S. defense spending — such as special operations forces and cyberwarfare. 

If reports prove to be accurate, the move would mark the first Pentagon budget initiative to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after 9/11. The Times cites Pentagon officials as explaining the proposal: " ... takes into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations."

The Wall Street Journal explains that details of budget initiatives surfacing ahead of its release indicates it's certain to come under political attack. 

"The approach ... is certain to face fierce resistance from veterans groups that recently defeated a far more modest congressional effort to curb military pay ... setting up an election-year confrontation" where it's going to be hard for members of Congress to accept anything viewed as taking benefits away from troops. 

​Pentagon officials say even with the across the board spending reductions, the proposal has backing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They reinforced that under the plan, the U.S. military would still have the resources to remain the most capable in the world. The plan needs Congress' approval.