Army Plan to Cut 40,000 Soldiers Was a Surprise to Congress, Senate Chairman Says
The chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee said members of Congress weren't notified of the Pentagon's planned cuts in Army restructuring until they were made public.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said he hopped on the phone with Army Secretary John McHugh and, after discussing the cuts in "great detail," found that 4,350 soldiers will be cut from his home state alone.
Fort Stewart will see a net loss of about 950 soldiers, he said, and Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., will see a net loss of 3,400 soldiers.
The Department of Defense plans to slash the Army nationwide by 40,000 soldiers -- from 490,000 to 450,000 by the end of 2017.
That doesn't include cuts to the civilian workforce, which are expected to be announced later.
“I am demanding answers from the Department of Defense on how they are justifying these troop cuts in Georgia. I have also taken steps to block a Senate vote on the president’s nomination of a new congressional liaison for the Department of Defense in light of the Department’s failure to give Congress a head's up before these cuts were made public," Isakson said in a statement.
“We cannot afford to reduce our military readiness at a time when the threats to our security here at home and throughout the world are growing at an alarming rate," he added. "Instead, we should be using our military to send a clear signal to the rest of the world that America has no intention of standing down in the fight against the threat of terrorism worldwide.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) also lashed out at the force reductions: “People who believe the world is safer, that we can do with less defense spending and 40,000 fewer soldiers, will take this as good news. I am not one of those people.”
When President Obama took office, Army strength was at 556,000 soldiers.