The US Army will cut about 80,000 soldiers and reduce the number of combat brigades from 45 to as few as 32 as part of wide-ranging changes to the army’s force structure to cut costs, according to the Associated Press.
The cuts to the military were presaged earlier this month in a presentation at the Pentagon given by President Barack Obama in which the the AP reported that the commander in chief had said the US was “turning a page” after killing Osama bin Laden.
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Citing unnamed officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to reveal planning that has yet to be made public, the AP said the Army plans to reduce its force strength from a high of about 570,000 troops to about 490,000. Cuts have already reduced the number of active duty soldiers to 558,000 according to the AP. (There are 205,000 reservists and 360,000 in the Army National Guard.)
The change could call into question the long-standing US force-preparedness strategy of maintaining the ability to fight two wars at once.
The officials cited by the AP said, however, that the cuts would maintain the Army’s effectiveness and avoid placing undue stress on individual combat units, partly by increasing the size of the brigades that remain each by an additional battalion. (A brigade comprises between 3,500 and 5,000 soldiers and a battalion is usually 600 to 800, the AP said.)
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The Defense Department’s budget for the 2013 US government fiscal year is now being prepared and must reflect $260 billion over its next five year plan, according to the AP, which said lawmakers had ordered the Pentagon to cut $487 billion in spending over the next 10 years.
The AP said the Army plans to separate with its personnel “carefully,” through retirements, dismissals on medical or behavioral grounds, reducing the number of promotions and permitted enlistments and re-enlistments.