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.
By Barbara Starr
Reports of sexual assaults at the three military service academies decreased for the 2012-13 academic year, but the Air Force Academy continued to have significantly more reports than the Army or Navy schools, according to a new report.
According to the report to be released Friday, the total number of sexual assault reports made in that academic year for all the schools was 70, down from 80 the previous year. It comes as several high profile cases of misconduct in the military have come to light.
By Barbara Starr
After months of U.S. military investigations into allegations that U.S. troops were involved in the killing of civilians in Afghanistan, the Army's Criminal Investigation Command has opened a criminal probe into the matter.
The investigation was sparked by evidence gathered in Afghanistan and provided to U.S. officials and the NATO alliance by the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Col. Jane Crichton, a spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
The Red Cross' information was provided to criminal investigators on July 17 and an investigation was opened the same day, she said.
In a written statement, the Red Cross said it heard about the allegations and submitted its concerns to "relevant authorities."FULL STORY
By CNN's Carol Cratty
A former U.S. soldier accused of fighting with terrorists against Syrian forces pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was released from custody.
Eric Harroun was sentenced to time served by a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday.
Court documents showed he pleaded guilty to an export charge involving conspiracy to transfer defense articles and services.
By Chris Lawrence
The size of the active-duty U.S. Army could fall to levels not seen since the 1950s if the Pentagon fully carries out voluntary and forced spending cuts totaling $100 billion annually over the next decade, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday.
Hagel outlined a series of worst-case scenarios - including potential pay and benefit reductions for active duty forces, civilian personnel and retirees - that would also impact the Navy, Marines and the Air Force if steps to ease the one-two austerity punch are not taken.
"This strategic choice would result in a force that would be technologically dominant, but would be much smaller and able to go fewer places and do fewer things, especially if crises occurred at the same time in different regions of the world," Hagel said.
Hagel said "everything is on the table."
It was Hagel's most comprehensive assessment of the financial challenges facing the Pentagon through the early part of the next decade.
His comments came just as Congress prepares to head home for its August break after which lawmakers and the Obama administration will again face key fiscal decisions on spending and federal borrowing.
The Pentagon is facing cuts of roughly equal value - $500 billion - in two areas over the next decade.
The first covers mandated, government-wide austerity that took effect in March after the inability of Congress and the administration to reach a deficit-reduction deal. The Pentagon's share of those cuts is roughly half of the overall government total.
The military also is planning to slash spending voluntarily as it moves away from more than a decade of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan and prepares to reorganize and become more nimble.
Under the analysis, Hagel said the Army could have nearly 200,000 fewer soldiers compared to its recent wartime high if the double-whammy of cuts hits full force.
The active-duty Army could shrink to as low as 380,000 active-duty soldiers by 2017, as Hagel outlined a choice between cutting the size of the military or keeping its technological edge.
The Army has not been that small since the 1950s.
Hagel also suggested the Pentagon may have to eliminate three Navy aircraft carrier strike groups, slash the size of the Marines and mothball up to five of the Air Force's combat air squadrons.
Hagel's report followed a review by Pentagon officials examining the short and long-term effects of budget cuts on military strategy.
The Pentagon will consider changing military health care for retirees to increase use of private sector insurance when available, and may change how the baseline housing allowance is calculated so individuals are asked to pay a little more.
The military may also reduce the overseas cost-of-living adjustments and limit military and civilian pay increases.
"Many will object to these ideas, and I want to be clear that we are not announcing any compensation changes today," Hagel said.
But Defense officials admit overall personnel costs have risen 40% above inflation since 2001. "The Department cannot afford to sustain this growth," Hagel said.
Congress will have to sign off on some of the cuts Hagel suggested.
For instance, the Pentagon previously tried to impose small increases in health care fees for its working-age retirees. But leaders on Capitol Hill pushed back.
Now the Pentagon is signaling it will be forced to push for bigger cuts, affecting both military and civilian personnel.
Hagel described the Pentagon's current compensation plan as unsustainable if the sequester and voluntary spending reductions are imposed full force.
"If left unchecked, pay and benefits will continue to eat into our readiness and modernization. That could result in a far less capable force that is well-compensated, but poorly trained and poorly equipped," he said.
By CNN Staff
The U.S. Army announced on Tuesday it plans to cut 12 combat brigades as part of steep budget austerity and other planned military changes associated with the ending of two wars and a sweeping military restructuring.
Additionally, the Army plans to cut roughly 14 percent or 80,000 troops mainly from its peak Iraq-war active-duty total. The National Guard will take a slight hit and the Army reserve will actually add 1,000 troops, according to Gen. Ray Odierno.
After the reductions are in place, the Army will field 490,000 active-duty forces, 350,000 National Guard troops and 205,000 reserves. Most of the cuts have come through attrition and the overall total was previously known.
The Pentagon is implementing planned budget cuts of nearly $500 billion over 10 years. But Odierno warned that more force reductions would be coming if separate, forced government spending cuts that took effect in March and hit the Pentagon hard were to continue into next year.
By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy
The commander of an Alaskan missile defense unit whose mission includes tracking and possibly shooting down any weapons launched by North Korea towards the United States, has been suspended, the Army said.
Lt. Col. Joseph Miley, commander of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, Alaska, has been under investigation since January, the Army said in a news release.
By Barbara Starr
A U.S. Army sergeant first class stationed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has been charged with allegedly secretly videotaping female cadets in their shower and latrine areas, according to Army officials.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael McClendon was charged May 14 with 13 "specifications" or allegations of "indecent conduct" in making videos between July 2009 and May 2012. Army criminal investigators are now contacting more than a dozen women who might have been videotaped, according to Army spokesman George Wright.
Wright said the investigation has been going on since May 2012, but charges were not made until last week because the Army was still trying to assemble computer evidence and identify the women involved.
By Barbara Starr
The Army has suspended the top general at Fort Jackson in South Carolina due to allegations of adultery and assault, an Army spokesman says.
Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts was relieved of his duties Tuesday as commanding general of the Army training center and Fort Jackson while the allegations are being investigated, said spokesman Harvey Perritt of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Roberts was suspended by Gen. Robert Cone, head of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
By Barbara Starr
Despite extensive support and counseling programs, as many as 349 U.S. service members committed suicide last year, which would be the highest number since the Department of Defense began keeping detailed statistics in 2001.
According to the Pentagon, 239 military deaths in 2012 have been confirmed as suicides and another 110 are being investigated as probable suicides. The number of suicides in 2011 reached 301; there were 298 the year before.
The statistics on suicides among service members, many of whom had deployed to war zones, included deaths among reserve forces.
Each branch of the service showed an increase. The Army had by far the highest number of suicides and probable suicides - 182, a number that was up from 166 in 2011. The Navy had 60 suicides in 2012 compared with 52 the year before, followed by the Air Force with 59 (up from 51) and the Marine Corps with 48 (up from 32).