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Cuts Will Leave US Army with 450,000 Troops

A recently announced troop-reduction plan will leave the U.S. Army with a cumulative cut of 120,000 soldiers since 2012, a 21 percent drawdown, the Army’s director of force management told reporters Thursday.

Brigadier General Randy George said the Army would reduce its force strength from 490,000 to 475,000 by the end of fiscal 2016, then to 460,000 by the end of fiscal 2017 and to 450,000 by the end of fiscal 2018. That's an overall cut of 40,000 troops.

According to data given to reporters from the Army’s public affairs office, the cuts will hit 26 Army installations in 18 U.S. states, from California to the Carolinas.

The general said the numbers of troops would also be cut in South Korea, Germany and Italy.

The cuts have been expected for some time, and Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the Pentagon, told VOA the Army force reductions have historical precedents.

“After World War I, after World War II, after any war that we’ve been involved in, there’s always been a drawdown,” he said, adding that the cuts must be done “responsibly.”

But the Army warned a responsible drawdown might not be possible if Congress doesn’t stop budget cuts known as sequestration.

“Unless the provisions of the Budget Control Act are changed or reversed, the Army will have to cut an additional 30,000 soldiers by 2019,” George said. “The resulting force will be incapable of simultaneously meeting current deployment requirements and responding to overseas contingency requirements of the combatant commands."

The Army cuts come as the Pentagon tries to absorb nearly $1 trillion in planned reductions to military spending over a decade. The latest reduction plan will save the Army $7.1 billion over four years.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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