U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel earlier this week discussed recommendations for the Pentagon’s Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 2015. Many in the military and aerospace (mil/aero) community have, since Defense Sec. Hagel’s talk, been repeating “the smallest Army since before World War II” or something similar.
That phrase is in reference to the recommendation to reduce the number of U.S. Army soldiers/troops to its lowest level in decades, despite what pundits consider to be mounting global threats.
“The development and proliferation of more advanced military technologies by other nations that means that we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space can no longer be taken for granted,” Defense Sec. Hagel explained. “We must now adapt, innovate, and make difficult decisions to ensure that our military remains ready and capable – maintaining its technological edge over all potential adversaries.”
The U.S. Defense Budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2015 “favor a smaller and more capable force,” Defense Sec. Hagel described. Recommendations call for reducing the size of the Army to 440,000 to 450,000 soldiers from its current level of approximately 520,000 soldiers; FY 2015 is expected to see a reduction to roughly 490,000.
Were the U.S. Army concentrated to a level of 450,000 troops, it would be the Army’s smallest size since 1940, just prior to America’s entry into World War II (WWII), with a troop strength of 267,767, officials say. Conversely, special operations forces, used for counterterrorism and crisis response, will grow to 69,700 personnel from roughly 66,000 today.