U.S. Army will shrink to smallest since before World War II

The Pentagon has divulged plans to shrink the size of the U.S. Army to 440,000-450,000 troops, which would be the smallest since just before World War II.

The full proposal is to be released today. But the New York Times, which appears to have broken the story, also says that the proposal will “eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.”

The Times story doesn’t say a great deal about how much this will reduce federal spending. The new budget is apparently the fulfillment of the requirement to cut military spending as part of the so-called “sequestration” agreement. It will be interesting to see the reaction from debt/deficit hawks. From the Times summary:

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.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/24/2014 - 09:38 am.


    “….entire class of Air Force attack jets….” is the F-35 boondoggle, which even the Air Force doesn’t want, then it’s good news, and a preemptive strike against the military industrial complex (classic science fiction fans; reread Arthur C. Clarke’s “Superiority”).
    These cuts will strengthen our economy for the real battles ahead, which are on the economic level. China is not devoting nearly as much of its resources to armaments as we are; it’s preparing to compete on the economic level.

    In other words, the wars that we’re fighting, as we’re proving in Iraq and Afghanistan, can’t be won with high tech armaments.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/24/2014 - 01:32 pm.

      And it turns out

      that Hagel is proposing to eliminate the A-10 attack plane which has performed effectively in the close ground support role required for the asymmetrical warfare in which we have been involved.
      In its place is continued support for the F-35 project, which is proposed to perform any function required of it, which of course means it is not likely to perform any well. In particular, its specifications include both stealth and supersonic speed as well as being capable of low level low speed function (although even its specifications don’t include the really low level close support provided by the A-10).
      In other words, it mainly supports Lockheed-Martin and its subcontractors.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/24/2014 - 10:16 am.

    Interesting, indeed…

    I doubt it will affect everyone in the category (self-professed or otherwise), but at least some of the debt/deficit hawks are going to find themselves backed into a corner, perhaps through their own rhetoric and votes.

    The military makes up, by far, the largest portion of the “discretionary” federal budget, and while substantial reductions may overall be considered a very good thing, when the defense contracting industry shrinks along with its primary customers, those lost jobs are going to be in *someone’s* congressional district or a state represented by a member of the Senate. There will surely be many unhappy constituents, often the very same people complaining about the high taxes necessary to support that military structure and institution.

    According to what I’ve read, Boeing paid no income taxes last year, despite income in the billions. I can’t help but wonder what will happen with their corporate tax situation when the profit picture darkens considerably. Will taxpayers be asked to contribute directly to executive Golden Parachutes?

    I tend to view shrinkage of the military as an overall good thing. We certainly have no enemies on the near-term horizon that an Army of half a million, plus naval and air forces to go along with it, could not deal with in defense of the country. Long term…? Well, we’ll have to see. In the meantime, the notion of having sufficient military strength and prowess to defeat an immediate enemy without having to support the necessary wherewithal for lengthy foreign occupations is one that appeals to me a great deal. We have numerous pressing domestic needs that aren’t being met because of a bloated military budget, not least being something closer to full employment.

  3. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/24/2014 - 04:32 pm.

    Smaller and Better?

    I’m pretty sure that a budget as large as the military’s budget can take some cuts. I’m less convinced that those cuts will be smart. There are too many constituencies that will be protected. That will override any kind of intelligent reorganization.
    Our military options have changed quite a bit in the past decade with the rise of drone warfare. Our enemies have also changed since we last fought a conventional war. Does anyone have faith that we’ve changed our approach to fit new circumstances?
    Mind you, I’m fine with trimming the budget. I’m just not at all convinced that this will be done the way it should be.

  4. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 03/02/2014 - 01:56 pm.


    I can’t be the only one rethinking the budget cuts after this weekend.

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