By Kristina Wong - 02/01/16 05:27 PM EST
Kentucky's senators are urging Defense Secretary Ash Carter not to reduce the number of troops at bases in their state.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnell78 lawmakers vote to sustain Obama veto Senate passes funding bill to avoid shutdown Conservative groups deliver last-minute warning to GOP on spending bill MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulLawmaker seeks to investigate Obama's foreign tax compliance law Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears GOP senators hit FBI on early probe of NY bombing suspect MORE (R) made the request in a letter to Carter.
"The Army installations in Kentucky provide critical services that are necessary for the national defense and security of our country," they wrote.
Paul, who is running for president, argued in a statement that Kentucky "has absorbed a disproportionate" amount of reductions and transfers already.
The Army is currently undergoing a massive downsizing, from 570,000 active duty forces in 2012 to 490,000 by 2018, as a result of post-war drawdowns and defense budget cuts.
The cuts were planned in 2013, after the Pentagon was hit with massive budget cuts under the 2011 Budget Control Act. The Army is slated to shrink down to 420,000 by 2019, if the cuts remain in place.
However, with new threats from the Islamic State and Iraq and Syria, as well as Russia and China, defense hawks succeeded in boosting the defense budget in a two-year deal, but the cuts are slated to kick in again in 2018.
Carter is slated to preview the administration's 2017 defense budget request to Congress in a speech on Tuesday. The actual request will be released next week, on Feb. 9.
Paul and McConnell asked Carter to keep in mind a provision in the 2016 defense policy bill requiring the Pentagon to report to Congress on the force structure of the Army, and include an independent risk assessment from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to meet the needs of military commanders around the world.
They also voiced opposition to further cuts to the Army overall.
"Army active duty end strength has already been significantly reduced under this administration," they said. "Any further reduction of Army personnel would unnecessarily add pressure on the men and women serving as well as their commanders."
A commission tasked by Congress to make Army force structure recommendations released its long-awaited report on Thursday, which said that the Army should not fall any lower than 490,000 troops.
McConnell and Paul, who has run on a platform of fiscal conservatism, wrote that they are supportive of cutting duplicative or unnecessary programs, but added, "we believe that maintaining a robust Army end strength is vital to the defense of this nation."
Paul has spoken in favor of protecting and expanding Army personnel at Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, said the statement from Paul's office.
He has also voted for an amendment to require the Army to maintain a minimum of 32 brigade combat teams in the regular and reserve components, according to the statement. The amendment failed, and the Army is planning to go to 30 active duty brigades and 28 National Guard brigades.
Paul also secured passage of an amendment that would require deployed troops to be counted as residents of the base they deployed from, instead of part of an overseas population, which deflates the base's overall population.
The Obama administration has sought to close military installations they say are underutilized— a move opposed by both Republicans and Democrats for the impact base closures would have on jobs and the local economy.