The United States Army has announced reduction of its strength by a whopping 80,000 by 2017 as part of a budget-cutting plan, making it one of the largest force reductions since World War II.

US Army Chief General Raymond Odierno said that this reduction would impact a number of US bases and its overseas troops presence, but this would have no impact on the presence of the US troops in the Asia Pacific region.

“As a result of budget cuts, the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and the 2012 Defence Strategic Guidance, the Army is reducing the authorised end strength of the active Army from a wartime high of 570,000 to 490,000,” Mr. Odierno said.

The cut will include the elimination of entire brigades (approximately 3,000 to 4,500 soldiers) at 10 installations and two bases in Germany, which would effectively bring the US troop strength to the pre 9/11 level.

This 14 per cent reduction is based on extensive analysis, the lessons of 12 years of war and the need to increase the Army’s operational capability and flexibility, Mr. Odierno said.

“The Army will inactivate a total of 12 brigade combat teams. Two overseas teams stationed at Baumholder and Grafenwoehr, Germany, will complete their inactivation in Fiscal Year 2013, leaving two brigade combat teams in Europe to fulfil strategic commitments,” he said.

Mr. Odierno said the move, which would involve relocating thousands of soldiers and eliminating some civilian jobs, would not hamper the Army’s combat readiness and was not linked to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

The restructuring “will reduce the overall number of headquarters, while sustaining as much combat capabilities as possible,” he told reporters.

But if Congress allows the automatic budget reductions to continue, the Army would face much more dramatic downsizing, with up to 100,000 additional troops cut, he said.

In that event, the reductions unveiled on Tuesday would be “only the first step”, according to the General.

More In: World | International | News