Under a plan the US Army intends to make public later this week, 40,000 soldiers would be laid off along with 17,000 civilian employees.The move will affect both domestic and foreign troops, and be carried out over the course of two years.
The measure comes amid the hurdles the Obama administration now faces in sending more troops in Iraq and Siria to fight the Islamic insurgents. In Iraq, about 3,500 troops are currently dispatched.
President Obama recently disclosed at the Pentagon that the fight against the ISIS would be a long-term campaign.
In two years’ time, the Army plans to have only 450,000 soldiers. The decision was taken due to financial restrains. But a Pentagon report showed early this year that the troop cut should occur by the fall of 2018.
During the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the U.S. army had 570,000 soldiers, but after the conflicts were over, the Pentagon had plans to trim it down. So, this week’s decision was not a surprise for many.
Military analysts said that 450,000 was a balanced figure, but cutting more would make them “quite nervous.”
Army officials declined to respond to any request for comment.
But the Army’s plan envisions 30,000 more layoffs if automatic budget cuts slated for this October would occur. Yet more cuts would mean that the U.S. army won’t be able to send troops in other regions.
The Army also plans to downsize brigades at Fort Benning and a base in Alaska from 4,000 troops each to about 1,000. But Sen. Dan Sullivan argued that trimming down the troops in Alaska “made no strategic sense.”
Alaska is a hot spot due to impending Russian aggression and military moves China is doing in South China Sea.
“One person who’s going to be very pleased with this is Vladimir Putin,”
Sen. Sullivan added.
Analysts believe that the U.S. army needs more than 450,000 troops to be ready to tackle all the security challenges the country currently faces. We’re talking about Russia’s aggression in Crimea and Ukraine, China’s plans to artificially expand territory into a disputed sea by using sand dredgers and bulldozers, and the ISIS rebels going bonkers in the Middle East.
In 2013, a US army document showed that sinking below 450,000 troops would critically decrease the chances of winning an armed conflict on the long run. As comparison, the Russian ground forces have 285,000 troops, while China’s People’s Liberation Army Ground Force has more than 1,600,000 active units.
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