Army to cut 40,000 troops

USA Today is reporting that the army will contract by 40,000 soldiers by 2017 due to budget cuts.  The drawdown will affect every command and every post around the world.

An additional 17,000 Army civilian employees would be laid off under the plan officials intend to announce this week. Under the plan, the Army would have 450,000 soldiers by Sept. 30, 2017, the end of the 2017 budget year. The reduction in troops and civilians is due to budget constraints, the document says.

The Pentagon's budget, released in February, envisioned the reduction to 450,000 would occur by Sept. 30, 2018.

Some of the cuts were expected. During the peak of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army swelled to about 570,000 soldiers to ensure that deployments could be limited to one year. After most troops came home from those wars, the Army planned to shrink.The Army should bottom out at 450,000 soldiers, said Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.

Cutting "more would make me quite nervous," he said.

The Army declined to comment on the proposed reductions in its forces.

If the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, set to begin in October, take place the Army would have to slash another 30,000 soldiers, according to the document. At that level, the Army would not be able to meet its current deployments and respond to demands for troops in other regions.

Among the proposed changes, brigades at Fort Benning, Ga., and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska will be downsized from units of about 4,000 soldiers to battalion task forces of 1,050 soldiers.

The cuts in Alaska make little sense with Putin becoming very aggressive in the Arctic.  Alaska senator Dan Sullivan says the cuts make "no strategic sense."  "One person who's going to be very pleased with this is Vladimir Putin," said Sullivan.

You have to ask the question: with all the threats we face, is this the best time to be cutting the army by 10%?  Obviously not.  But there is little logic to defense spending these days, with liberals more concerned about bathrooms for transgendered troops than national security, and Republicans refusing to delay or cut some new weapons systems due to pork-barrel politics. 

As usual, the brunt of these congressional squabbles is borne the people who wear the uniform.  A larger burden will be placed on those who remain in the service, as more will be asked of them.  The world is a very dangerous place, and while some cutbacks are inevitable as a result of our drawdown in Afghanistan, we are losing some flexibility with these cuts that we may regret.

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