The proposed cuts, part of the 2015 defence budget, includes reducing troop levels and scrapping an entire class of aircraft.
10:17pm UK, Monday 24 February 2014
Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has proposed shrinking the US Army to its smallest force since before World War Two.
Mr Hagel outlined his vision in a speech at the Pentagon, a week before President Barack Obama is to submit his 2015 budget plan to Congress.
The defence chief said US forces must adjust to the reality of smaller budgets, even as he asserted that the United States faces a more volatile, more unpredictable world that requires a more nimble military.
He said: “We are repositioning to focus on the strategic challenges and opportunities that will define our future: new technologies, new centres of power and a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable and in some instances more threatening to the United States.”
Under the proposal, the active-duty Army would shrink from its current 522,000 soldiers to between 440,000 and 450,000.
That would make it the smallest since just before the US entered World War Two.
Army enlistment peaked following Septmber 11, 2001, reaching 570,000 service members.
Mr Hagel’s plan also entails scrapping an entire class of attack jets – the Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II – which provides close aerial protection to ground troops.
The beloved aircraft, known as Warthog for its snub-nosed design, was designed at the height of the Cold War to destroy Soviet tanks in case of an invasion of Western Europe.