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Pentagon urges shrinking the Army to pre-WWII numbers

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed cutting Army troop numbers to pre-World War II levels today, according to ABC News, Feb. 24, 2014. Hagel's rationale for the cuts was the termination of thirteen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the subsequent decrease in the need for troops. Under Hagel's plan, American troop levels would be brought down to around 450,000 by 2015. This sharply contrasts the World War II era troop numbers which escalated to over 1.46 million.

Hagel also proposed eliminating the A-10 aircraft and the widely respected U-2 spy plane which gained preeminence during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950's.

Although the new Army proposed by Hagel is smaller, it is more proficient, effective and deployable, according to Hagel who stated:

“Our recommendations favor a smaller and more capable force, putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms. That military force would still be able to respond to world crises by 'maintaining its technological edge over all potential adversaries.'"

Hagel's proposed troop numbers would be the smallest since 1940, when it peaked at around 267,000. However, that number more than quadrupled a few months later in 1941 when the United States became involved in World War II.

Hagel was cautious not to recommend cutting troop levels too far, as he suggested that America's capability to "face tomorrow's challenges" could be compromised if cuts in troop numbers are too drastic.

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