WASHINGTON — 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 to 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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