Report: Hagel plans to reduce size of Army to pre-WWII levels

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to reduce the size of the U.S. Army to its smallest force since before World War II, according to The New York Times

Hagel reportedly will unveil the plan Monday in his 2015 budget for the Pentagon, which will also call for an entire class of Air Force attack jets to be retired. 

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After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Army peaked at 570,000 troops, the Times reports. Hagel wants to shrink the force to between 440,000 and 450,000. That would mark the Army’s smallest force since 1940.  

Several Pentagon officials confirmed the budget plan to the Times on condition of anonymity. They say it would be large enough for the U.S. to defeat any enemy but too small to carry out longer-term foreign occupations.

"You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can't carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war," a senior Pentagon official told the newspaper. 

The budget comes as the Obama administration prepares to pull out most American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. The U.S. has been considering a complete withdrawal if Afghan President Hamid Karzai refuses to sign a bilateral security agreement that would outline how many residual forces would remain after 2014.