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Proposed armed forces cuts could impact JBER

By Bonney Bowman 7:37 PM February 24, 2014

The proposed reduction would cut the Army by about 13 percent.

ANCHORAGE – The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are winding down. Now Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says it’s time to reduce the country’s standing Army.

Hagel made a series of budget proposals Monday, with the biggest being a cut to the U.S. Army.

The Army is currently 522,000 soldiers strong.

Hagel says the coming end of the country’s longest war means it’s time to reduce the numbers, to between 440,000 and 450,000 active duty troops.

That’s the Army’s smallest size since 1940.

The proposed reduction cuts the Army by about 13 percent.

For perspective, there are around 5,000 active duty Army soldiers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. A 13 percent cut would reduce that number by 650.

The goal is to continue to invest in technology, Hagel said, allowing a smaller number to soldiers to accomplish more.

The other military branches also face cuts, including retiring all A-10 aircraft, U2 spy planes and reducing some benefits, totaling about $75 billion in savings over the next two years.

“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.

Sen. Mark Begich also weighed in on Hagel’s proposal, saying he will be monitoring the issue.

In a statement, Begich said, “As United States foreign security focus tilts towards the Pacific, we need to make sure our military forces are postured to address crises in this region. As I have said before, I will not support efforts to reduce force structure in this region – including Alaska.”

Hagel also proposed reducing the military housing allowance and putting a one percent cap on pay raises.

JBER leaders didn’t want to comment on the proposals. They say it’s too early in the budgeting process.

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