Army plans indicate military officials will cut 40,000 troops from the force over a period of two years.
Neither domestic nor foreign outposts are exempt from the cuts, according to a document obtained by USA Today. The end result would be a total of 450,000 troops. Any lower than this number, and the Army may not succeed in a war, the service noted in 2013.
The announcement comes at a time when the Obama administration is desperately trying to form a coherent strategy to battle the Islamic State. While Obama stated on Monday that the fight won’t be a quick one, there hasn’t been any indication that the administration is ready to send further troops to Iraq. Moreover, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno recently told CBS “This Morning” that even shipping over 150,000 U.S. troops wouldn’t accomplish much. As soon as they would leave, an ISIS-like entity would re-emerge, Odierno argued. (RELATED: Sending 150,000 Troops To Iraq To Defeat ISIS Would Be Totally Futile, Army Chief Of Staff Says)
The plan also details the reduction of 17,000 civilian employees in the Army. Two of the bases affected include Fort Benning in Georgia and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. Both will drop from approximately 4,000 soldiers to 1,050.
Officials cited budget constraints as the impetus for sizing down the force, though the Army had always planned to decrease its roster following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now that troops are coming home, the peak number of 570,000 soldiers is no longer needed. Around 10,000 U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan. An additional 3,500 troops have been sent to Iraq, in order to train the Iraq military to fight ISIS.
If the plan moves through unabated, staffing levels would be the lowest since 1940. If sequestration comes into effect, another 30,000 troops will have to go, putting the Army well under 450,000 troops. The Army did not respond to a request for comment from USA Today.