US plans to reduce its military size to pre-WW II level

US plans to reduce its military size to pre-WW II level

The US plans to shrink the size of its military to its smallest force since pre-World War II level and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets, according to a media report.

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel's proposal, outlined by several Pentagon officials, would be aimed at reducing defence spending in the face of government austerity, after a pledge by President Barack Obama to end US involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The New York Times reported yesterday.

The plan would leave the military capable of defeating any enemy but too small for long foreign occupations and would involve greater risk if US forces were asked to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time, the paper said, citing Pentagon officials.

"Success would take longer, they say, and there would be a larger number of casualties," the NYT said.

"You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can't carry a large land-war Defence Department when there is no large land war," the paper quoted a senior Pentagon official as saying.

Over all, Hagel's proposal, the officials said, is designed to allow the American military to fulfill President Obama's national security directives: to defend American territory and the nation's interests overseas and to deter aggression — and to win decisively if again ordered to war.

"We’re still going to have a very significant-sized Army," the official said. "But it's going to be agile. It will be capable. It will be modern. It will be trained."

Hagel's plan would most significantly reshape America's land forces — active-duty soldiers as well as those in the National Guard and Reserve, the paper said.

"The Army, which took on the brunt of the fighting and the casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, already was scheduled to drop to 490,000 troops from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. Under Hagel's proposals, the Army would drop over the coming years to between 440,000 and 450,000," the NYT said.

That would be the smallest United States Army since 1940.

For years, and especially during the Cold War, the Pentagon argued that it needed a military large enough to fight two wars simultaneously — say, in Europe and Asia.

Under Hagel's proposals, the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft would be eliminated.The aircraft was designed to destroy Soviet tanks in case of an invasion of Western Europe, and the capabilities are deemed less relevant today, the paper said. 

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