Hagel Proposes Shrinking Army To Pre-WWII Levels
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is proposing shrinking the Army, closing military bases and making other military-wide savings as part of a broad reshaping of priorities following more than a decade of war.
Hagel outlined his vision in a speech at the Pentagon Monday, a week before President Barack Obama is expected to submit his 2015 budget plan to Congress.
Hagel said the military needs to adjust to the reality of smaller budgets, even as he asserted that the United States faces a more volatile, more unpredictable world that requires a more nimble military.
"An army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy, " he said.
Under the Hagel plan, which Congress could change, the active-duty Army would shrink from its current 522,000 soldiers to between 440,000 and 450,000.
That would make it the smallest Army since just before the U.S. entered World War II.
The new emphasis would be on quick reaction and special forces, technology and keeping the troops that remain in top fighting shape.
"The changes in end strength would result in a smaller Army but would help ensure the Army remain well-trained and clearly superior in arms and equipment," said Hagel.
Under the proposed budget, pay raises for troops will be capped at 1 percent.
The plan also freezes the salaries of generals and admirals.
Military retirees might have pay more toward their health insurance.
Hagel said the Pentagon will ask Congress to approve another round of base closings in the U.S. in 2017.
He said if Congress opposes it, the Pentagon will have take every step to close infrastructure on its own.
In addition, the proposal calls for the retirement of the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack aircraft.