The U.S. Department of Defense on Monday announced plans to curtail the number of ground troops to between 440,000 and 450,000 by 2017, the lowest level since 1940 when the number of active-duty soldiers stood at around 267,000.
The sharp drawdown is part of efforts to reduce Washington’s financial woes. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that as a result of large budget cuts, U.S. forces would assume additional risks in “certain areas” including training and maintenance.
Some analysts say that the troop reduction will not affect overall U.S. military capability. They argue that it is a “return to normalcy” after 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the U.S. has invented high-tech military weapons systems, including unmanned combat equipment.