Pentagon Plans To Reduce the Size of the Army


Credit: David B. Gleason/wikimedia

The New York Times is reporting that the Pentagon plans to reduce the Army to its smallest size since before the Second World War.

According to the Times, the new Pentagon spending proposals, which have been endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will ensure that the U.S. is capable of defending itself while being too small to engage in long-term foreign occupations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the Times:

The proposal, described by several Pentagon officials on the condition of anonymity in advance of its release on Monday, takes into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations.

An unnamed official told the Times that the reduced Army will "be agile. It will be capable. It will be modern. It will be trained." This sounds similar to the sort of military force that the French recently deployed in Mali and the Central African Republic. First class, but not equipped for nation building. 

The proposals will reportedly shrink the Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 troops in the coming years. The Army's highest number of troops post-9/11 was 570,000.

The U.S. is not the only country planning to cut the size of its army. The British government is planning on reducing the size of the British Army to 82,000 by 2020. In 2010, the British Army had 102,260 troops. The decision was criticized by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who said that the reductions would hamper the U.K.'s ability to be a "full partner" with the U.S.

Although the Obama administration is planning on reducing the size of the Army, this should not be taken as a sign that the U.S. will be withdrawing from foreign engagements. Since taking office President Obama has demonstrated that he is not shy about using Special Forces and drones in order to implement a foreign policy that, although not as focussed on foreign occupation as his predecessor's, is interventionist and overly involved.

Even with the proposed reductions implemented, the U.S. Army will still be one of the largest in the world, and U.S. military spending will still be much larger than any other country's.

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  1. I’m sure the Republicans will get on board with this “less spending” proposal!

    1. I already saw some TEAM RED rep on TV denouncing this.

      To me, the problem is blowing money on the F-35 and cutting the A-10. Cut the muscle and keep the fat.

      1. To me, the problem is blowing money on the F-35 and cutting the A-10.

        AND keeping troops stationed all over the world. Bring them back to the US.

      2. No money to be made on the A-10, the profit is all in R&D. Once you’ve got all the bugs worked out, its just factory work. Which is pretty much how Congress has run the military since, oh, about the time Ike left office and Kennedy completely ignored Ike’s warning.

        1. err…

          Do you really want our military to have all the stuff anyone can make?

          The A-10 is probably cheap and great and the F-35 is probably an expensive lemon.

          Still i think in general we should expect our military’s equipment to be close to cutting edge and therefor expensive relative to mass produced stuff anyone can make.

        2. … and got what was coming to him, right?

      3. Respectfully, the A-10 is the fat. It’s 50 year old technology and quite frankly there is little it can do that can’t be done better by other platforms.

        1. I guess I’d want to see the actual operational cost to judge. I hate to see perfectly good systems decommissioned, especially knowing it’s also been decided that some B-52’s will be 80 years old before they’re pulled from service.

          1. The B-52 hasn’t been a viable weapon system for 30 years. They have pulled the unmaintainable defensive suites out of them and they are of little use other than standoff platforms or in COMPLETELY permissive environments. They are also falling apart, as are many of our older systems. The AF has been trying to get rid of them for years and Congress won’t let them for reasons of politics.

            The A-10 is no longer survivable on a modern battlefield. They are a one trick pony whose capability has been largely replaced by precision weapons. There are other (survivable) platforms that can perform both interdiction AND CAS. The A-10 cannot perform interdiction. Why would you pay to support 2 weapon systems when one can do both missions?

            1. Like you said about the B-52’s, logic hasn’t stopped Congress from trying to order more F-22’s than the AF even wants.

              Someone proposed moving the A-10’s to the Army, which would have an immediate need for its anti-tank capabilities, so maybe the existing inventory can be reduced to the best examples and reassigned, much as Bush and Daschle did with the B-1’s. I know helicopters can do the job, too, just an idea.

              Or maybe they can just be sent to Air Guard units, as was done with A-7’s and F-4’s in the 80’s, so if there’s ever a really drastic need, they can be called upon.

              1. Like you said about the B-52’s, logic hasn’t stopped Congress from trying to order more F-22’s than the AF even wants.

                Not correct. The original order was for over 800. A complete one for one replacement of the F-15. After the drawdown the AF was wanted just over 400. Then Obama cut it again. The AF insisted the absolute minimum was 226 and they got 186. With 186 the AF will not be able to meet the national strategy requirement. (Here’s hoping they never need to.) The administration claimed the number would be made up for with the F-35. The F-35 is primarily and A-G fighter with some A-A capability. It has a fraction of the capability of the F-22 in the A-A role. Our president understands military capability about as much as he understands economics.

                Moving A-10s to the Army won’t save any costs.

                1. Go discuss your hobby somewhere else.

        2. Uh, there is no platform in the US Arsenal or in development which can do what the A-10 can do.

          This is not to say that you could not design a better air support for Low Intensity Conflicts platform but none of the F-16, F-15E, or F-35 can do the job anywhere near as well as the A-10 and even Apache helicopters can only do part of the job

          1. Your information is dated. CAS has changed with technological advances. No one “hits smoke” anymore. CAS is done from 20k feet. All ground units have the capability to generate and pass extremely accurate target coordinates. There is no need to root around in the dirt anymore. For targets requiring visual ID, it is done via targeting pod, which can also generate extremely accurate coordinates which can be directly downloaded to precision munitions.

            There is only ONE thing the A-10 can do that cannot be accomplished by other means. They can get under a low overcast and visually ID a target (when no JTAC is on the ground to call in coordinates). That scenario happens less than 1% of the time.

            The A-10 was a damn fine aircraft for killing tanks coming through the Fulda Gap back in the 70s. Now, just about any aircraft can do it from altitude. Now it’s a one-trick pony that needs to go.

            1. Your information is overly optimistic.

              1. How so, and on what do you base your position?

            2. If the coordinates are so accurate, it means we’re deliberately targeting wedding parties and ambulance teams. And I’m just. Not. Ready. To believe that about MY country.

    2. I live in the Norfolk area. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  2. Of course, if we left the Koreans and Germans to manage their own defenses, we could cut all that stuff and bat nary an eye.

    1. What do they pay us for that, BTW?

      1. they’ve got us figured out – not only do US citizens pay for the privilege of defending the Sorks and Germans, we also pay both for the property American troops use. American ingenuity.

        1. Not so sure. One reason Greece is in the shape she’s in is because the USNATO forced their people to pay for the hardware used by their own occupiers, who of course are very solicitous about the freedoms of the Greek people… And ask the Japanese to total up the real costs to them of the US occupation.

      2. Korea and German have some sort of partial reimbursement. The problem is we pay the people, and their benefits, pensions, etc.

        Germany is one pricey place too. I don’t know how much Korea stands out that way, however.

        Thing is, the cuts could just be our stuff in Korea and Western Europe alone.

    2. And the Italians, and the Greeks, and the Japanese, and the English, and the Spanish and the…

      It never stops, man.

  3. I’m guessing that none of the 700,000+ civilians who work for the DoD would lose their jobs. Fitting that the number of bureaucrats in the DoD is almost double the number of soldiers.

    1. Well, at least they can be used for cannon fodder in times of need.

      1. Now you are making me a war-monger.

    2. “We’re gonna reward our friends and punish our enemies.”

    3. In some ways, though, having civilians rather than uniforms in those jobs actually saves money. When you count the housing and subsistence allowance a lot of enlisted get, which isn’t taxed, a five-year unmarried E-5 takes home more every month than a GS-11.

      I suspect a lot of high-cost of living bases are going to be targeted in the next BRAC, irrespective of their mission. Places like Travis and Hanscom AFB are going to look pretty ripe for beancounters, and Lieberman/Dodd won’t be there to save the naval station at Groton next time.

      1. given it’s proximity to MIT Lincoln Labs and Mitre corps HQ can they really close Hanscom?

        I suppose they could consolidate Hanscom and Natick Army Labs into a single facility but since both locations are essentially R&D depots closely tied to specific labs I’m not sure they could just move the mission to someplace in the middle of nowhere

      2. The reason they went to contractors/GS is they are cheaper overall than military for all the reasons you state, Plus healthcare, retirements, and training costs.

      3. Most enlisted soldiers don’t make it to 20 years and a pension. Most civilian employees do.

      4. the e-5 only makes more if getting BAH and they shouldn’t be making that if they are single and living in government quarters.

        The problem with personnel expenditures is their abuse, base pay isn’t very much but crafty soldiers can game the system and make far more than they ought to by taking advantage of various programs.

        for instance if you deploy you can “rent” a room for your parents for $100 a month and presto you are eligible for BAH and can easily double your paycheck.

        other people can use their GI bill while going to a school with a veterans grant (free tuition for vets) banking their GI BIll as cash, there is a separate tuition assistance program on top of that and student loan repayments on top of that.

        reform of military pay should be to remove all of the concurrent programs and actually raise base pay, (kinda like closing tax loopholes allows for tax rates to be lowered)

  4. Giving this even the most cursory attention leaves me with a mental image of some dimly remembered Star Trek alien with an enormous head wobbling atop of a atrophied, barely ambulatory body.

    “If I could get out of this crib, I would totally kick your ass!”

  5. A result, the officials argue, will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations.

    But we’ll totally have money to buy General Dynamics’ newest multi-billion dollar “weapons platforms” because JERBS!

    1. No. Because similar platforms are what you can expect to face on a future battlefield.

      1. And you can expect to face them because Wall Street and Gen. Dynamics created them.

  6. “too small for protracted foreign occupations”

    Does this mean we get to pull out of Germany and South Korea?

  7. How can we talk about cutting our defense budget when we should be calling up the troops for our glorious Ukrainian Rescue Mission?

  8. Any plans on cutting the number of foreign countries the US Army is expected, to defend, invade, democratize?

    1. It’s apparent now that Obama can’t (or won’t) put an end to neocon influence over foreign policy, so it should be obvious that Hillary won’t, either. She may well be who they want in 2016.

      1. YTTWROOMM

  9. Pentagon Plans To Reduce the Size of the Army

    Finally, a Dwarf Army worth of mention!

    Because that is what the Pentagon meant, no?

    1. Good, we can go after Smaug, get the gold and jump start Austrian economics

    2. Cool. Nice axe.

    3. Pentagon *says* it plans to reduce the size of the army. I suspect the real story is ‘Pentagon unveils PR strategy to increase defense spending’.

      This sounds exactly like the ‘budget-cutting proposals’ wherein you start off outlining your plans to lay off police, firemen, and teachers and then point to the ensuing outcry as proof that the public is adamantly opposed to your cutting the budget.

  10. Reducing the size of the Army. Increasing the size of the NSA, BATFE, FBI, DEA, DHS, CIA, etc…

    1. Yep. Shows you who they feel they must protect themselves from.

      1. Gah! Thanks for that cheery thought. And I have no whisky to put in my coffee…

        1. Surely there is an orphan being beaten for that oversight as we type?

    2. A new “peace dividend” that we can once again immediately spend faster than you can blink.

      Because as we know, the world has never been more peaceful than it is right now.

    3. And overburdening SOCOM with carrying the bulk of our questionable foreign policy.

  11. 1) Brilliant idea if paired with a commitment to reduce the scope of our foreign policy to something manageable (less nation-building, not involving ourselves in other countries’ domestic situations, etc.).

    2) Terrible idea if we plan to have the same (or more grandiose)foreign policy objectives and ‘do more with less’.

    Given that this is the Obama administration, the latter is far more likely than the former– and we already have some excellent examples of why it doesn’t work to try regime change and idealistic foreign policy when you don’t know what the hell you are doing and are committing very few resources to same.

    1. C’mon, we know exactly what we’re doing. It’s called Full Spectrum Dominance, and the Romans were doing it too. Our financial system is a little more complex, is all.

  12. That sounds like a very good plan to me. It is un needed! Plain and simple.


    1. Some Anonbots just want to watch the world burn…

  13. Eliminate the Air Force.

    Give their share of nukes to the Navy.

    Land-based air power goes back to the Army, so they can finally get CAS when they need it.

    Military housing costs plummet.

    1. If you really want to save money you go to a single force military that doesn’t compete for missions. Having three separate services, that trains and equips differently in peacetime, that is then required to fight together in wartime is asinine.

      You could still have air/land/sea arms, but you wouldn’t have the Navy and AF competing for force projection through carriers vs bombers. You could combine repetitive functions between services, for instance, each service has an acquisition center (3 different bases)…WHY? Each service has a flight test center (3 more bases)…WHY?

      Congress and DoD need to think about defense completely differently if they really want to save coin.

      *light redman light*

      1. ^I wish Reason had a thumbs up button^

  14. Yeah, well, all they have to do is cut back on the Obamas’ vacations and golf-club dues to make up the difference. Anyway everybody knows that that Muslim Marxist wants to hand America over our enemies, who hate us because we’re free. In the 1930s we reduced our military strength under the Socialist Peacenik One-Worlders, and on Dec. 7, 1941 look what we got. The exact same thing is gonna happen now, only this time it’ll be the Muslim Communist Chinese and Russians that’ll come over here and take all our natural resources and technology, and turn our women into sex slaves. Etc. And they’ll be playing Golf with Obomber the Peacenik while we shine their shoes. Anyway the 400$ hammer is a leftwing myth, and as for tanks and bombers, who cares if they’re totally obsolete? They serve their purpose. Etc.

  15. One of the three main Constitutionally required duties of the Government is the Defense of the Republic. Now the Sock-Puppet-In-Chief wants to gut the military to fund Illegals, Lackeys and other useless eaters.

    Making the world equal by making everyone equally impoverished.

    You will be able to count in days, before an adversary will test the weakness of will of this Post Turtle Usurper.

    We are in the very best of hands.

  16. Curious to see where Rand comes in on this. Wonder if his tone will change http://www.washingtontimes.com…..-pentagon/

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