Newscast Media WASHINGTON—U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined on
Monday his priorities for a 2015 defense budget cut, including plans to reduce the
size of the U.S. army to its pre-World War II levels.
“We are repositioning to focus on the strategic challenges and opportunities that will
define our future: new technologies, new centers of power and a world that is
growing more volatile, more unpredictable and in some instances more threatening to
the United States,” Hagel said at a Pentagon press conference.
The Pentagon chief unveiled his budget-cut proposals as the Obama administration is
preparing to pull out most U.S. troops from Afghanistan following an almost 13-year
“As we end our combat mission in Afghanistan, this will be the first budget to fully
reflect the transition DOD (the Department of Defense) is making after 13 years of
war, the longest conflict in our nation’s history,” said Hagel.
Among the proposals, Hagel announced his plans to further reduce the size of U.S.
Army to between 440,000 to 450,000 active- duty soldiers. This would mark the U.S.
Army’s smallest force since World War II. The active-duty troop level has already
been slated to go down to 490,000 by 2015 from a peak of 570,000 after Sept. 11
Hagel’s proposals also include to retire the U.S. Air Force’s entire A-10 fleet and to
seek another round of base realignment and closure.
Hagel said the recommendations favor “a smaller and more capable force, putting a
premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more
technologically advanced adversaries.”
“They’re also well-suited to the strategy’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, to
sustaining security commitments in the Middle East and Europe, and our engagement
in other regions,” he added.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US forces could carry out a variety of missions to support Syrian rebels in their fight against Bashar Assad’s regime, but most of these missions would bear high cost and risk of retaliation, the United States’ top military officer said.
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided an unclassified assessment of the options for using the US military in the Syrian conflict in a letter to US lawmakers made public on Monday.
According to Dempsey, Pentagon is ready to undertake such missions as training the opposition, conducting limited stand-off strikes, establishing a no-fly zone, establishing buffer zones and controlling chemical weapons.
“All of these options would likely further the narrow military objective of helping the opposition and placing more pressure on the regime,” Dempsey said in the letter.
“We have learned from the past 10 years, however, that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state,” he warned.
The general followed with a brief outline of potential costs and risks involved in each option. For instance, a no-fly zone option “would require hundreds of ground and sea-based aircraft, intelligence and electronic warfare support, and enablers for refueling and communications.”
“Estimated costs are $500 million initially, averaging as much as a billion dollars per month over the course of a year,” Dempsey said, adding that the risks involved potential loss of US aircraft and failure to reduce the violence as Assad’s regime “relies overwhelmingly” on ground forces.
Even the training and advising the opposition would incur an estimated cost of $500 million a year, the general said.
The United States has been providing humanitarian aid and nonlethal help to the Syrian opposition, so far. However, the White House has recently vowed to step up its support for the Syrian opposition, including military aid, in the wake of fresh US claims that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons multiple times during the conflict.
Leading US senators, including Democrat Carl Levin and Republican John McCain, have been pressing President Barack Obama to take a more forceful approach to defeat Assad’s forces.
Source: RIA Novosti