February 24th, 2014
10:00 AM ET

Defense Department to cut Army to pre-WW II size

By Halimah Abdullah

The Department of Defense plans to scale down the nation's Army to its pre-World War II size and do away with an entire class of Air Force attack jets in an attempt to cut military spending, which mushroomed after the attacks of September 11, 2001, according to reports.

The plan, backed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, as first reported by The New York Times, positions the military to handle any enemy but will leave the armed forces with much fewer resources to take on lengthy missions abroad. The dwindled budget also reflects the current political climate, with a President who has pledged to pull back from extended and expensive wars abroad in an era of federal funding cutbacks.

The budget is to be presented Monday.

Hagel proposes cutting the Army to 440,000-450,000 troops, according to the Times. Army troop levels already were supposed to go down to 490,000, from their height of 570,000 after the 9/11 attacks.

The budget, does, however, protect funding for cyberwarfare and special operations, a reflection of the evolving way in which the U.S. has approached fighting overseas, using tactics that don't necessarily rely so heavily on land fighters. The proposal also preserves money for controversial and costly F-35 fighter planes.

The proposed cuts will probably draw sharp criticism from some members of Congress, especially those with large Army bases in their states and districts, or whose economies depend on building and servicing parts for the Air Force planes that will be eliminated.

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Filed under: Army • Pentagon
soundoff (1,706 Responses)
  1. Orglov Tratt

    Those who favor the downward trend in overall military capabiltiy would be advised to review the 1996 film "Independence Day" starring Jeff Goldblum. Not that a massive alien invasion is imminent (would we even know?) but the lack of time for our legacy R&D process to find effective countermeasures to their presumed weaponry and technology (remember, even their fighters had force-shields) compels not just the U.S. but ALL nations of the earth to stand together and persue common objectives in face of the threat.

    February 27, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  2. Bernie106

    Cutting manpower is dangerous. everybody looks at our numbers and says that's a lot of soldier. But did anyone bother to ask, how many of those are actual combat troops? You will find that number is smaller than you think. It takes approximately 7 support personnel to support 1 infantryman in the field. Being talk about us being invaded by Russia or China. That's total garbage. They have no intention of it, nor do we have any intention of invading them. The logistical support alone by either side makes it impossible. The main worry would be conflicts in countries like Korea, for example. If the North would invade the South. We only have 35,000 men stationed there,. Not all those are combat troops. So that's nothing more than a drop in the bucket. The US would be forced to respond with a large amount of actual combat troops, plus their supporting personnel. Where do you get all all that manpower so quickly? One word: Draft! In case you didn't know, the Draft age was raised to 44 years of age, however men 18-25, you'll be on your way, because your at the ideal age. You need younger, not older on a battlefield. So cutting those manpower numbers down to pre-WWII size brings you one step closer to the Draft, should a situation develop overseas requiring a large military response from the US.

    February 27, 2014 at 9:57 am | Reply
    • DJ Reality

      But it was okay when Dick Cheney did it back in 1991? Dick told America we had to reduce our military forces by 25%. But now he thinks it's wrong. We more than any other country for defense and after the cut we still will.

      February 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Reply
      • Bernie106

        I honesty hope your right. Because if Washington get's it wrong, a lot of people will be in for a wake up call.

        February 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
  3. SchedulerLewis

    Of course we're going to reduce our military. China has over 6,000,000 military troops. I'm sure our 3 or 4 dozen can certainly defend us from any threat. I think Donald Rumsfeld should be put in charge of the Shock and Awe we'll produce when we launch bottle rockets and rocks at the invading troops.

    February 27, 2014 at 9:34 am | Reply
    • DJ Reality

      Oh yeah we need to protect our shared border with China. They might invade.

      February 27, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  4. AF Engr

    Those who cry foul at cuts to our military can never explain how we can afford to maintain it at current levels. The reason they think we can is because the American people haven't felt the strain on their pocketbooks of a prolonged war and massive defense expenditures. Isn't it at all strange that there haven't been significant tax hikes to pay for these wars? Taxes are unpopular, and so our elected and unelected leaders instead borrow from a central bank that is more than happy to accept the debt of the people in turn for bank notes they create out of thin air. Eventually there will be a reckoning and the house of cards will come tumbling down...it's happened the last three times the global elites have tried to saddle the American people with a central bank and it'll happen again. No, we cannot afford welfare, medicare, social security or a massive standing army. The sword isn't the only means by which a nation falls.

    February 26, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Reply
    • Guest

      I'm a current member of the military and I support the idea of cutting the number of troops and reducing the overall budget. We're not likely to need to fight a large conventional ground war in the next 10 years that requires us to keep over 500,000 soldiers ready to do battle. That being said, the way they're cutting and what they're cutting is just stupid and it will drive experienced mid-career NCOs and officers way from the ranks in droves.

      It's really insulting to read commentary every day shaming corporations for using welfare to subsidize low wages from someone who's praising the DoD doing exactly the same thing to service members. The proposed cuts will push more young military families into eligibility for welfare. It's not okay for minimum wage to have its buying power eroded by inflation but praise to the Pentagon for trying to do precisely the same thing to us with pay raises below the inflation rate.

      February 26, 2014 at 10:51 pm | Reply
    • amanda

      How about we first cut the BILLIONS we are sending to China, Russia, Iran, to name a few.

      February 27, 2014 at 8:59 am | Reply
  5. Roger B.

    Okay folks, let's look at the actual numbers in this debate. We can compare the US defense spending to the rest of the planet and add the top 7 up and we still overshoot them all. I'm a conservative (Texan) and feel a strong pride in our military. However, if we are to conquer our budget issues we most address this unreasonable amount (good portion mismanaged) of funds being mispent. Challenge yourself to indepthly study across isle on the issue and you may quiet yourself slightly.

    February 26, 2014 at 10:58 am | Reply
  6. money

    dont forget to mention we make less then minimum wage. im a specalist and i make LESS then a private (e-1) the problem isnt in the military spending heck we are luck to even get rounds to shoot and im infantry! the problem is within the main government, the same people who are spying on you, trying to take away your rights, and other things as well. they dont care about us or about you they just want an to make their wallets bigger out ours smaller. sure the military is their target this time but who will it be next? doctors? teachers?

    February 25, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • Random

      Agree. This is bad for the country long term. I dont trust obama's appointees , nor the direction obama has taken us. Things have gotten worse. The economy is in shambles , The budget is not balanced, The military IS being targeted on so many levels from ridiculous charges , to 'scandals' . The last people we aught be turning our backs on is our veterans and the first people that should be held accountable are the politicians. The way it is going the politicians tell the soldiers to fight a war and then attack them for doing so.

      Our econemy is built on our military being strong. When you make these cuts , and demolish the physical remains (think of the shuttles, not only did we shelf them we demolished all the structures too) Stuff is not being replaced as it is scrapped. We are allowing our country to be demolished part by part. Take the defense budget away and AMERICANS are out of jobs. What do you think the only jobs Americans really do any more is? The only engineering houses are basically government funded . When that money is 'saved' thousands of americans are going to become out of work and potentially homeless.

      How far will this go before people see it.

      February 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm | Reply
    • Marty

      You must understand. We need the money for the "free stuff". If the money goes to the military that's less money for the "free stuff" and how will we get elected?

      February 26, 2014 at 9:17 am | Reply
  7. Tom1940

    As a two-pointed gambit to A) turn the discussion in the media from ongoing bad news about the ACA, plus B) the Administration knowing that the House and Senate will never allow troop level and weapons system cutbacks to reach WWII (1940) levels or less – this "ploy" on the part of the Administration is nothing more than "managing" talking points, and keeping something fresh "dangling" before the media.
    On a serious note: VP Cheney's interview on Fox News summed up my feelings. Future Presidents will have their hands tied. Pure and simple. Not being able to back up your "words", truly does make the President a "paper tiger".
    Something this President does not appreciate, because he does not have, either by experience, education, nor ability, the expertise to know the "true value" of what Teddy Roosevelt said about his foreign policy: "Talk softly and carry a big stick". Too bad Obama was not a history major, instead of a Law Professor, he might have wisely used his resources to better advantage, than just a whipping boy to pay for his social welfare programs.

    February 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  8. L.A.C.

    The world knows that the U.S. is under a critical financial situation. Along with the world are also our enemies and those who are yet not declared enemies but are waiting; on standby. Reducing the Military force displays a sense of weakness because our enemies know that we are at our weakest point. What if this is what they are waiting for? For the U.S. to be at its weakest defensive mode to then strike. A smart enemy strikes exactly where it hurts the most. U.S. irresponsible way of managing financials is being reflected in not only the reduction of soldiers from all different Armed Force Branches but also on equipment where DoD has initiated the process of reducing equipment, vehicles, and resources needed to ensure America's safety. Unfortunately we are not the most loved and acclaimed country which means that there will always be threats out there that might require the strength that we have now in numbers, in force, and in resources in order to survive and retain our strategic world position. But it seems that this is no longer the goal. There is no more American Dream; not while we continue to work the way we are.

    February 25, 2014 at 9:34 am | Reply
    • NNN

      You gotta problem with the reductions? Take it up with the criminally irresponsible DoD leadership who have SQUANDERED trillions down the drain over the past decade! This is long long long overdue, it's time to bury business as usual in the DoD, you've had enough warning and never did anything about it, now get lost. You want to know America's biggest enemy? It is the criminal ver_min in DoD, you're the ones who sold this country out.

      February 25, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Reply
      • Guest

        We absolutely should take it up with those responsible for decades of the worst financial mismanagement possible. The DoD is one of the biggest sources of fraud waste and abuse in our government. The problem with these cuts is not the reduction in the defense budget, it's that a large part of the reductions are holding the lower-ranking half of the enlisted force accountable for them by asking them to bear the brunt of these cuts. Generals spending too much money on planes they don't need, Congress making the Army buy tanks it doesn't want? Too bad, Specialists need to spend more on housing and groceries to make up the slack. See the issue?

        February 26, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
  9. A Marine

    Obama promised to help reduce the unemployment rate, then passes legislation to reduce military... LOL

    February 25, 2014 at 1:35 am | Reply
    • What

      I'll say this my friend, we, as a military, burn through money like it'll never run out. We have an equal place at the table of responsibility. So we're reaping what we've sewn. History has shown that the military force is always greatly reduced after MAJOR hostilities (active war) have ceased, and is then increased in size again once the budget is re-balanced.

      February 25, 2014 at 2:37 am | Reply
  10. America

    Jesus are these people insane? I see people posting that we have nothing to protect America against. Did Jesus come back and the world is in harmony I must have missed it. I see people fighting in the streets EVERYDAY to OWN EVERYTHING. But I guess us black folks are just evil aliens and everyone else in the world are the humans trying to be at peace. You don't even have to follow foreign policy just WAKE UP and glance at the person next to you! Yall are living ni a fantasy world watching MTV and Nick Jr. Are all the adults in the world gone? Or is America the only country that has been taken over by a bunch of kids. And when we lay down our arms and get attacked these same fools on here will probably say we deserve it.It must be a bunch of rich people dreaming in their living rooms on this site. Wake up and look out the window. GROW UP. THE WORLD IS NOT NICE. LOL Cant believe I have to say this

    February 25, 2014 at 12:14 am | Reply
    • What

      I'm not sure what your argument is or where it's going. Your literally all over the place.

      February 25, 2014 at 2:41 am | Reply
  11. Howkasam

    I was talking to a OSS officer. She said when WWII started they found 1 machine gun to defend 400 miles of California coast.

    February 24, 2014 at 10:36 pm | Reply
    • UPTODATE

      Possibly with climate changes then Alaska a State full of resources so to speak,might become a desired plum,possibly,if states continue to rebel in the former Soviet sphere of influence_across the waters from Alaska

      February 25, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  12. RPG 34

    I guess We want another 12/07/1941 to happen by cutting military . We need to bring government back to the people .Government needs to shrink not the military

    February 24, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Reply
    • NNN

      Oh- you mean allow another "surprise attack" they knew was coming to kill a few thousand sailors so the sheep get all up in arms about it? Is that the kind of thing you're talking about?

      February 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Reply
    • Guest

      Yeah, I don't think these cuts are going to put us in danger of another sneak attack from a foreign nation. The problem is that these spending cuts break promises to those already serving. Shake the soldier's faith that his government will make good on what it owes him and see if he sticks his neck out when it really counts. That's where the danger lies.

      February 26, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  13. What

    Paco, your freedoms to type your point of view freely without consequence are being protected as we type. Just food for thought.

    February 24, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Reply
  14. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    February 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Reply
    • JET

      Nice try commie.

      February 24, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Reply
    • FactChecker

      I think you need to check your numbers again LMAO

      February 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Reply
    • JAK

      I am sure that you can go and live somewhere else where you are appreciated and believed. I will leave it to your imagination to know where that is.

      February 25, 2014 at 12:44 am | Reply
  15. Kenneth

    I remember when President Clinton scaled back purchase of M1 Abrams tanks and the right acted like he had just betrayed the country to the commies.
    When it turned out we had all of the M1's we had ordered, or would need for the next 20 years, those same screamers were oddly silent.

    February 24, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Reply
  16. Jack Hollis

    This is definitely a step in the right direction. Now let's do the same to both the Navy and the Air Force. We already have far too many killing machines as it is!

    February 24, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Reply
    • Tony

      We kicked 60,000 out of the navy over the last 3 years. By "kicked" I mean they actually canceled contracts to do this.

      February 24, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Reply
    • JAK

      Until someone from outside of the country comes to kill you.....

      February 25, 2014 at 12:46 am | Reply
    • wab

      YOUR RIGHT ON THE MONEY

      February 25, 2014 at 11:58 am | Reply
  17. devil dog

    A Channel 2 Action News investigation found that the State Department is sending millions of dollars to save mosques overseas. This investment has received criticism as the United States makes an effort to slash nearly $4 trillion in government spending.Plenty of outrage following the announcement made Thursday afternoon by a government commission that suggested huge cuts to the budget, including eliminating the interest education for home mortgage. This juxtaposed with the United States investing millions to refurbish mosques as a good-will effort in Muslim countries has upset many taxpayer groups.

    “We are spending money we don’t have. This is all on a gigantic credit card right now,” said Jared Thomas, a taxpayer advocate.

    Millions more dollars have been sent to places like Cyprus. The State Department displays before and after pictures of mosques refurbished with U.S. tax dollars.

    “I think it is very hard to explain to the American taxpayer right now whose having an extraordinary time paying bills and making ends meet that this is why we took this out of your paycheck, so we can fund this,” said Thomas.

    The State Department declined a Channel 2 Action News request for an interview. We wanted to ask why are we using tax dollars to refurbish religious buildings overseas. The State Department did send Channel Two Action News an e-mail saying that they are fighting Islamic extremism by building relationships with Islamic leaders.

    Egyptian-American human rights activist Nonie Darwish told Channel 2 Action News anchor Justin Farmer that trying to buy respect in the Middle East only shows our weakness.

    “This part of the world has a lot of respect for power and America is not showing its power, it’s showing its appeasement. They are laughing all the way to the bank,” said Darwish.

    Yet we are cutting funding from the military?
    MAKE SENSE OF THAT!

    February 24, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • John Geheran

      Why don't you want to cut military spending, especially as it's the right thing to do, devil dog? We need that money here at home for our schools, infrastructure, police and fire departments just to name a few. Do you honestly think that we need to keep on slaughtering people needlessly in these idiotic wars that we're in? I don't!

      February 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm | Reply
      • devil dog

        If we need that money at home, why the heII are we sending it overseas? Cutting our military numbers should be an absolute last resort. Our military might is the only thing keeping this country from being invaded and conquered!

        February 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
      • Kenneth

        And exactly who is going to invade and conquer us? Mexico? Canada?
        You seem to have a sadly frightened view of the world.

        February 24, 2014 at 7:55 pm |
      • Kenneth

        Perhaps one of the Caribbean super-powers?

        February 24, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
      • devil dog

        Who said anything about being frightened? I said our military is the only stopping real powers like China or Russia and yes even some of our southern neighbors from coming here and taking our resources. And why wouldn't they? You are completely naive if you think for a second they wouldn't if given the opportunity.

        February 24, 2014 at 8:01 pm |
      • Kenneth

        Sorry d-dog, but you are the naive one if you think we have anything China or Russia wants, other than trade, that they can't get easier and cheaper somewhere else. We import almost all of our strategic resources, so that is off the table. Oil? That is a commodity no one is going to invade the U.S. over.
        Yes, you sound frightened. Or paranoid.
        We could easily defend the continental U.S. with one third the military capability we have now.

        February 24, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • devil dog

        Sure we can kenneth. Lets agree to disagree. Sound like a plan?

        February 24, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
      • Kenneth

        That works.Have a good one, d-dog.

        February 24, 2014 at 8:21 pm |
      • JAK

        It is naïve to think that we will spend it on those things.

        February 25, 2014 at 12:45 am |
    • TNPatriot

      Yet ,where was Jared Thomas, the Koch brothers employee when President George W Bush began this program in 2001. Yes they are funding the rebuilding of historic Mosque, Churchs and Temples, all considered cultural landmarks.
      The State Department says that, in total, the fund has contributed nearly $26 million to approximately 640 cultural heritage sites in more than 100 countries, and more than half was given before Obama took office.
      BTW, this "channel 2 investigation was published Nov. 11, 2010. It appears that this was the only news outlet in the country that fell victim to the Koch Brothers Americans For Prosperity propaganda piece.

      February 25, 2014 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  18. Taka Kalienov

    I am conflicted about cutting military budget in this country. Perhaps, it will do more good than bad.

    We can spend this money on education instead of war, books instead of guns, pencils instead of bullets, schools instead of bombs, and safety in our schools instead of invading other countries.

    February 24, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Reply
    • devil dog

      Or we can spend it on mosques over in egypt? Wait that doesn't make any sense. Spend American tax payer dollars on renovating mosques in egypt while we take away American tax dollars from the American Military? But that is exactly what we are doing.

      February 24, 2014 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  19. Jim

    I understand the need for these cuts but really? The A-10? Now I can't think of a better COIN aircraft and considering the F-35 doesn't work and isn't even that great of a plane considering how over-budget it is....

    February 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  20. iceman

    I love how a lot of people bash the military and say how useless it is. You think we're lazy, just watching the sky and picking our noses all day.

    We follow our orders. We're on call 24-7. We makes sure our vehicles roll out, our weapons shoot and not blow us up, our vessels float and our airplanes fly. No matter the time of day, weather condition or time of the year. We don't get overtime pay. We work when we're told to. We accomplish the mission that is set for us. From the president, to the congress, to our top brass.

    If you're going to play the blame game for how crappy this economy is, blame congress. Blame the big corporations who tried to cheat our system. Blame the big fat lazy corporate leaders, who have fat wallets and well funded lawyers to cheat our system.

    We work just as hard as anybody else. And sometimes, even more. And we're ready to lay down our lives. For our family. For our brothers and sisters.

    February 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • wildblue

      Good response!! Civies have no freakin clue.

      February 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Reply
    • brat

      We are not bashing or forgetting the men and women of our armed services, we are taking down these zillionaires that make do all of the talking and none of the walking. The M-I complex is a disease that grows day. We can stand down a few dozen jets, and a mega carrier or two, these machines are obsolete, stealth, autonomous IT, and weapons that can be sortied with a minimum of human interface is the future that is now.

      February 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • Mitch

      I don't think the question is whether or not you're doing your job, the question is, is it a job that needs to be done? Obviously we need a military, but do we need as large a military as we have? Surely you agree that the size of the military is bloated via the influence of the military-industrial-congressional complex.

      This move will probably lead to the lose of many jobs, and, though it may cause a lot of people pain and hardship, I think it will also increase the societal pressure placed on the government to fix the widespread unemployment problem.

      February 24, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Reply
      • Paco

        You forgot a fe parts: military-industrial-financial-surveillance state-congressional complex.

        February 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
    • Paco

      Yeah, what about after you retire? Should you be any more deserving of a pension than someone who pays Social Security their whole lives? Are you more deserving than a public employee in, say, the state of Wisconsin? Or are you willing to sacrifice your military pension/benefits for the good of the country and "deficit reduction"?

      February 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Reply
      • Fly Navy

        First, military personnel pay Social Security. Second, your freedoms are protected by the military, regardless of whether you agree with the policies of our elected leaders. They issue the orders and the military executes them. The executors of orders have no say in the policies that order them to war – we go and fight. Your angst should be directed at the elected leaders with whom you disagree – not the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who risk their lives on a daily basis to allow you to voice your opinions. Check out the voice of dissent in Ukraine – they were killed and you have it good.

        February 24, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
    • Paco

      I totally respect that you're willing to lay down your lives for your brothers and sisters in arms. But please don't ever tell me that what you're doing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, or wherever you're stationed overseas, that you're "protecting our freedoms". Because you're not.

      February 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Reply
      • devil dog

        How the heII would you know what we are doing over there?

        February 24, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
      • wildblue

        I think you should go visit a VA hospital and ask a vet to his/her face exactly WHAT he or she was doing in Afghanistan or the ME. Don't rely on Google, get some real, live testimony for people who have served. I'm not wasting time commenting to a brick wall. Show the vets who obeyed orders that you don't appreciate their efforts and sacrifice.

        February 24, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
      • What

        Paco, your freedoms to type your point of view freely without consequence are being protected as we type. Just food for thought.

        February 24, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
    • NNN

      You're just tools. The MIC uses you to justify the exorbitant ripoff of the American taxpayer.

      February 25, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  21. Mr. Balls

    No matter how much DOD is cut it will still be too big. Since DOD is incapable of producing an audit how can it maintain any credibility when challenged?

    February 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • A Marine

      Think of this as a domestic issue. You would have no problem with cutting the DoD but think of how many lives and families that indirectly effects. I fortunately do not have a warfare based job but I have many friends that will have their pay directly affected by this cut. men with families, men who have been shot multiple times and yet still answered their next deployment orders. Its funny how Congressmen can pass legislation safeguarding their own pockets but when it comes to re election they don't care who they screw over. I guess honestly you have to be effected by the cut to have a true opinion. But yet youre probably steadfast in your beliefs so whats the use of even writing this message.

      February 25, 2014 at 1:31 am | Reply
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