Size of U.S. army could be dramatically reduced

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2014 file photo, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon. A U.S. official says that as part of the proposed 2015 defense budget, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel is recommending shrinking the Army to its smallest size in decades. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Defense Department could soon reduce the size of our Army to the smallest it’s been since before World War Two.

As our military’s combat role in Afghanistan comes to an end, the Army has already planned to reduce the number of active-duty members from 570,000 to 490,000.

Now, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is proposing to cut that number further to as little as 440,000 soldiers.

Gumersindo Gomez of Springfield’s Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center told 22News that veterans are upset the Pentagon is thinking about money rather than soldiers’ well-being.

“It’s all about the money,” Gomez said. “It’s cheaper to government to keep someone unemployed for 26 weeks, just to pick a number, than to have to keep that man in salary for 2 or 3 years. It’s all about the numbers.”

In addition to cuts in the number of army forces, Hagel has also proposed to get rid of a class of Air Force attack jets.

These proposals are all part of the Pentagon’s budget plan for 2014, which was expected to be released Monday.

Congress must now approve the budget.

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