General: Army force of 420K insufficient

Ahead of the Pentagon’s budget release in March, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said having to reduce the Army’s end strength from about 564,000 to 420,000 by 2019 would leave the Army too small to meet future requirements. 

“So I’m still pressing us to review, ‘Do we really want to go sequestration-levels of support in the Department of Defense,' and I think that’s the same for all the services,” he said during a Council on Foreign Relations discussion Tuesday evening. 

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Defense officials have floated the idea of reducing the number down to 420,000, but Odierno said 450,000 should be the minimum. 

“That last 30,000 makes a huge difference in the capability that we have,” he said. “So I think about 450,000 is right.” 

“It’s higher risk, but we should be able to do it,” he said. 

Odierno said there was growing global instability, from North Korea to the Middle East to East Asia.

“This is not a time where I can say things are at peace and [we] say ‘We don’t need an Army,’ ” he said. “If you get too small, you lose your ability to compel and deter others from making bad decisions."