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Pentagon gives pink slips to thousands of soldiers, including active-duty officers

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FILE: Feb. 20, 2014: U.S. troops in Kabul, Afghanistan. (REUTERS)

The Pentagon is laying off thousands of military officers, including those serving or who have recently served in Afghanistan.

Defense Department officials said the reductions are the result of mandatory spending cuts imposed by sequestration and are part of their larger plan to reduce the number of U.S. soldiers from 520,000 to 450,000.

Roughly 2,600 captains and other officers have or will be laid off, with more expected, Fox News learned Friday.

The decision to send pink slips to soldiers overseas on active duty is dangerous and bad for morale, says retired Major Gen. Robert Scales.

“It puts the soldier, the soldier’s family and the men under his command at risk,” said Scales, a Fox News contributor. “Young officers look at each other and wonder who is next.”

He said the Pentagon made a similar move after the Vietnam War.

The Army said the draw-down plan “is a balanced approach that maintains readiness while trying to minimize turbulence within the officer corps.”

On Thursday, Gen. John Campbell told Congress that 1,100 soldiers, including some currently serving in Afghanistan, would receiving pink slips due to sequestration budget cuts to the Defense Department.

Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in response: “Once again [President Obama] is putting domestic politics ahead of the security of our nation. The Army captains and majors receiving pink slips while on the battlefield is just the latest example. 

"My heart goes out to these men and women who are risking their lives and making great sacrifices, yet are now being told they are being separated from the Army and will have no job when they return home to their families.”