The Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today that the active duty Army which currently sits at approximately 520,000 personnel, which is on glidepath to reduce to 490,000 by 2015—will in fact now be reduced to 440,000. The media has been quick to point out that the active U.S. Army will be reduced in size to something not seen since before the Second World War. While true, it doesn’t come close to really capturing the true scale and scope of the cuts.
In 1940 our population and military looked something like this:
Overall U.S. Population: 132,164,569
Active duty U.S. Army: 269,023 (this includes the U.S. Army Air Corps)
The Army was therefore .2% of the U.S. population.
In 2014 the populations look like this:
Overall U.S. population: 317,297,938
Active duty U.S. Army: 520,000 (and shrinking)
Active duty U.S. Army in 2015 (original plan): 490,000
Active duty U.S. Army in 2015 (new plan): 440,000
Under the new plan the Army will represent .1% of the U.S. population (estimated).
So with adjusted numbers based upon the U.S. population (sort of like how economists adjust for inflation), we will soon have a standing army half of what it was in 1940. And this is while we still have tens of thousands of troops deployed in combat operations all over the world! Last time we checked we were still fighting in Afghanistan, are leading active counter insurgency operations in the Philippines and a significant commitment in Columbia hunting the FARC.
Oh, did I mention that they are also planning on retiring the A-10 with no replacement in the pipeline? Yeah, that’s sort of an emotional issue with Army folks as well—they love that airframe and the people that put them into action, from the maintenance crews that fix them, the JTACs that talk them onto targets, the pilots who fly them, the officers that plan their operations, the fuelers that top them off, and all the other unsung heroes who wear USAF on their uniforms who will get pink slips when the Warthog goes “bye bye.”
Oh well, I suppose all those military guys and gals will be out of work for awhile but I suspect they’ll get recalled before too long. We always seem to get kicked in the groin and dragged into a big, bloody, nasty war every time we eviscerate our military. It’s sort of like the history we seem to be quick to forget… which has a nasty reputation for repeating itself.
Interesting times indeed.