Rep. Cotton: Stop firing soldiers in combat

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Tuesday called on the Senate to pass legislation to prevent soldiers from being given notice while serving in a combat zone.

“The men and women deployed overseas have left their homes and families to fight for our country," Cotton said in a statement Tuesday. "It's deplorable the Obama administration would treat them this way."

Although Cotton placed the blame on the White House, military leaders have said troops cuts are being made due to defense budget cuts imposed by Congress, as well as winding down from Iraq and Afghanistan war levels.

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The Army has planned to go from a peak of 570,000 to about 450,000 active duty troops by 2017 if sequestration cuts continue, and possibly down to 420,000 by 2019.

Nevertheless, Cotton said the pink slips' timing "is yet another shameful display of President Obama's disregard for our country’s warfighters."

Cotton, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, is trying this November to unseat Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

Cotton said such legislation could be included in the Senate's defense spending bill, since the House has already passed its version.

The Senate's defense spending bill is not expected to be passed until after the August recess, and possibly next year.

Gen. John Campbell, the Army's vice chief of staff, testified to lawmakers last week that 1,000 captains were recently taken out of the force.

"And some of these are men and women that are currently serving in Afghanistan. It could be company commanders in Afghanistan that we're asking that they have to leave the force," he said. "So that's hard-hitting. We're going to see that continue."

— This story was updated on July 16 to clarify the testimony from Gen. Campbell.