Proposed Defense budget decreases Army levels

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposes a smaller army in 2015.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the defense budget he’ll present to Congress next week. Hagel says we don’t need a huge Army, and wants to cut the Army by 13 percent, to as few as 440,000 soldiers.

Enough to fight just one war at a time, and change our world view.

“It’s a pivot to the Pacific, but that means a greater emphasis on air and sea power and a downsizing of our ground forces,” says miliary analyst Todd Harrison, from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The Obama administration wants a more nimble armed forces, that relies more on technology. That would mean fewer infantry jobs, but more drone pilots. 

"The Air Force has got more drones now than it has regular combat aircraft," says former assistant defense secretary Lawrence Korb. "Even the Navy is starting to put drones on their aircraft carriers.”

There'll be fewer troops, and they'll have less generous benefits, too. The Pentagon wants to lower housing allowances, and subsidies for grocery stores on bases, called commissaries. That won’t go over well with service members, or their representatives. 

“You’ve got individual members of Congress who are being hammered by constituents," says American University International Relations Professor Gordon Adams. "And members of Congress are understandably sensitive."

Asked about the politics of his budget today, Secretary Hagel said Congress had to be sensitive to the fact that we’re facing a new reality. The world is relatively peaceful today. And America's not prosperous enough to maintain the huge armies of the past.


440-450,000

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed decreasing Army troops to 440-450,000, the lowest amount of Army personnel since 1940, during World War II. Source: New York Times

$496 billion

The total proposed budget for the Pentagon's 2015 fiscal year. Source: Bloomberg

$91 billion

The Defense Department's buying request for weapons for its 2015 fiscal year. Source: Bloomberg


About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...