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Exclusive: Dick Cheney calls reduction of Army 'dangerous'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Today, the administration decided to slash America's military, raising major concerns about U.S. national security. Earlier today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the proposal which would shrink the Army to pre-World War II levels. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL: The Army must accelerate the pace and increase the scale of its post-war (INAUDIBLE). Today, there are about 520,000 active duty soldiers, which the Army had planned to reduce to 490,000. However, the strategic choices in management review and the QDR both determined that since we are no longer sizing the force for prolonged stability operations, an Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy.

Given the reduced budgets, it is also larger than we can afford to modernize and keep ready. We have decided to further reduce active duty Army end (ph) strength to a range of 440 to 450 soldiers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Here with exclusive reaction, former vice president Dick Cheney. Mr. Vice President, Welcome back. Good to talk to you.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT (via telephone): Good to talk to you, Sean.

HANNITY: Your reaction? Pre-World War II levels? Dangerous?

CHENEY: Absolutely dangerous. You know, I've obviously not been a strong supporter of Barack Obama, but this really is over the top. It does enormous long-term damage to our military. They act as though it's like highway spending and you can turn it on and off.

The fact of the matter is, he's having a huge impact on the ability of future presidents to deal with future crises that are bound to arise. I've told you, Sean, about the story about right after Desert Storm, when I was secretary of defense, after we won, the first thing I did was call former president Reagan out in California and thanked him for everything he'd done back in the '80s to build that magnificent force we had for Desert Storm.

I can guarantee there's never going to be a call from a future secretary of defense to Barack Obama to thank him for what he's done to the military. Just devastating.

HANNITY: You know, I'm -- I'm looking at the smallest U.S. Army since 1940. And I'm looking at the world and you know, the most current conflicts that are going on. And the president drew the red line in the sand with Syria. We obviously have the rise of Al Qaeda in North Africa and still in the Middle East, we're told. North Korea, Iran, we don't know. China has been having a massive military build-up.

Are things more dangerous or less dangerous? Is it more likely we'll need troops in the future or less likely?

CHENEY: Well, that's one of the strange things about Hagel's statement. I noticed fairly early on, he said that we're re-focusing our strategic challenges and opportunities for a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable and in some instances, more threatening to the United States. That would lead me to think I need to strengthen my military capabilities, not cut it.

It's -- I think it's a reflection of the basic fundamental belief of this president that -- he always wanted to cut the military. And he said when he went to Cairo on that famous apology tour back in '09, he believed -- he apologized for our over-reaction to the events of 9/11. And today, he's fixing it in a way, in effect, where it's going to be almost impossible for future presidents to deal with that kind of situation.

HANNITY: You know, I think the under-reported story today were comments made by Secretary Hagel. He actually said this. I'll read it really slow. He said, "It means we're entering an area where America dominance in the seas, in the sky and space can no longer be taken for granted."

Now, why do I imagine that if America's not going to fill that void, somebody else will, and why do I suspect it's not going to be somebody very favorable to our interests?

CHENEY: Well, and it's also a reflection of the notion that somehow, a strong America, well equipped with a strong military, is a danger to international peace and stability. And just exactly the opposite's true. I think if history teaches any lesson, its' that the world's a safer, more stable place when the United States is strong and is prepared to use that strength when necessary.

The way I read this, they're basically making the decision in the Obama administration that they no longer want to be dominant on the seas, in the skies and in space, and their budget reflects that -- radical cuts, in terms of force structure and size, the -- this notion that we no longer want to have a force that's capable of any sustained occupation of a foreign territory is -- you know, that's a basic fundamental decision that drives -- supposedly justifies this.

But lots of times, you don't get to make that choice. Circumstances will make that choice for you. And the president will have to decide how he's going to deal with a particular crisis. And if history is any guide, it often does involve a military, an Army...

HANNITY: Sure.

CHENEY: ... capable of that kind of activity.

HANNITY: Did you see the Gallup poll showing for the first time that more Americans think the president is not respected by other world leaders than believe he is, by a percentage -- 41 percent think he is respected, 53 percent do not think he's respected?

CHENEY: Right. I did see that. The other thing I know for a fact too, Sean, from keeping in touch with some of my old friends that I used to deal with in the Middle East, they no longer have any confidence at all in American security guarantees. They're absolutely convinced that they can no longer trust the United States to keep its commitments. That includes the Israelis, the Saudis, and a lot of others in that part of the world.

They peddle this line that now we're going to pivot to Asia, but they've never justified it. And I think the whole thing is not driven by any change in world circumstances, it's driven by budget considerations. He'd much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops.

HANNITY: Pretty frightening. Mr. Vice President, thanks for being with us. Appreciate your reaction tonight.

CHENEY: Good to talk to you, Sean.

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Hannity, hosted by Sean Hannity, airs on Weekdays at 10PM ET on Fox News Channel.