Senate bill would end Army, Marines troop cuts

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Two Republican senators have introduced a bill that would end troop cuts for the Army and Marine Corps.

The bill, introduced by Republican Sens. Jerry Moran (Kan.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.), who both sit on the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, comes as that panel examines a Pentagon budget request for 2017 that includes troop cuts.

{mosads}“President Obama’s tenure is marked by across-the-board spending cuts to our military in the face of increasing threats to our national security,” Moran said in a statement Thursday.

“Given the volatile, uncertain, and dangerous developments over the past several years, the readiness of our Armed Forces, particularly land forces in the Active and Reserve Components of the Army and Marine Corps, must not be jeopardized. This legislation would help safeguard our nation while global threats demand America’s full vigilance and capabilities.”

Under the proposed cuts, the Army would drop from 480,000 to 450,000 troops by the end of 2018. The Marines would drop from 184,000 to 182,000 troops.

But under the bill introduced this week, the Army would stay at 480,000 and the Marines at 184,000.

“The president’s primary responsibility is to keep Americans safe,” Blunt said in a statement. “Yet the steep defense cuts he has proposed would do just the opposite, undermining our military readiness at a time when we face more threats, coming from more directions, than ever before.”

The Senate bill serves a companion to legislation introduced in the House earlier this month that has the same goal. 

The lawmakers who introduced the House bill argued that assumptions have changed since the administration drafted its force levels in 2013. For example, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has emerged as a threat, and Russia has made aggressive moves in Ukraine.

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