Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s 2015 budgets calls to shrink the U.S. Army to a pre-WWII level through billions of dollars in cuts, according to a plan to be unveiled Monday afternoon on Capitol Hill.
At the peak of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the Army’s strength was 570,000 men. Recently, Fox News reports, it has been preparing to slim down to 490,000 men. Hagel’s plan would see it level off at between 440,000 and 450,000 active-duty men.
In 1940 — the year before Peal Harbor was bombed — there were approximately 270,000 men in the U.S. Army. That number climbed to six million during WWII before again collapsing. The number of active-duty members also rose during Korea and Vietnam — to 1.6 million each — but has largely declined since, particularly since the end of the Cold War.
While American military doctrine had demanded that the U.S. maintain levels to be able to fight two simultaneous wars, “in more recent budget and strategy documents, the military has been ordered to be prepared to decisively win one conflict while holding off an adversary’s aspirations in a second until sufficient forces could be mobilized and redeployed to win there,” The New York Times reports.
Among the weapons systems slated for retirement are the A-10 “tank killer” planes and the U-2 spy plane.
Unidentified Pentagon officials said the cuts will leave the U.S. militarily “capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations,” the Times reports.
The budget keeps the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which has experienced major setbacks and cost overruns. (RELATED: More F-35 problems delay new jet)