Army force cuts pose risk to US national security, say lawmakers

"We all must understand that this is only the tip of the iceberg, [and] much deeper cuts are still to come," McKeon added. 

The cuts, which will be phased out over the next several years, will bring the service's total force down to 490,000, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday. 

The cost savings from the troop cuts will go toward paying the Army's $170 billion share of the 10-year cut of $487 billion to the Pentagon's coffers under the 2011 Budget Control Act, according to Odierno. 

The Defense Department plans to cut $41 billion from its budget in fiscal year 2013, to pay for the first year of that 10-year plan. 

Until Tuesday, it was unclear how the Army would foot that BCA bill.

"There is always risk when you make cuts. That is [just] what happens," Senate Armed Services Committee chief Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinWill the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Biden officials brace for worst despite vaccine data Michigan GOP unveils dozens of election overhaul bills after 2020 loss MORE (D-Mich.) said of the Army's announcement. 

"There was no other way they could [get there]," Levin told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. 

The Army and the Pentagon are also facing an additional $500 billion in cuts under the White House's sequestration plan. 

But Odierno made clear Tuesday's troop reductions would not go toward paying that sequestration bill. 

"This end strength . . . reduction predates sequestration," Odierno said.  "So as sequestration moves on, there will be a requirement potentially to take out more force structure out of the Army." 

That said, the Army may have to cut an additional 100,000 troops should the service be forced to take sequestration into account in fiscal year 2014, the four-star general said. 

"Full sequestration could require another significant reduction in active guard and reserve force structure as much as 100,000 combined," he added. 

Army leaders had pressed Congress to allow the service to shutter aging facilities, via the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission, to help pay for the budget cuts under the BCA. 

Army Secretary John McHugh said in June that lawmakers are forcing the Pentagon to spend millions on upkeep on of military bases that are “simply unusable.” 

But lawmakers' insistence on blocking the Pentagon and armed services from proceeding with another round of base closures forced the Army to look elswere for savings. 

"Congressional paralysis [on BRAC] has placed our military in a very difficult position," according to House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithDemocratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack The tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Congress must stop the march toward war with China MORE (D-Wash.)

"Congress blocked each and every one of these attempts and has now forced the military to make a difficult choice: maintain a larger force that will hollow out over time or convert to a smaller force," he said in a statement Tuesday. 

"The Army chose the latter," he added. 

But Odierno pointed out the number of Army bases may have to come down, to accomodate the smaller force. 

That said, Levin dismissed claims Tuesday's troop reductions was an attempt by the Army to get around congressional blocks to base closures. 

"That is not what I understand the purpose or intent is . . . [and] I do not think they will have that effect," the Michigan Democrat said. 

Despite the troop cuts, the Army will continue to invest in "aviation, special operations, missile defense and cyber capabilities," according to a Pentagon statement. 

That investment will be critical to keeping the service ready to take on future operations, according to Senate defense panel member Jack ReedJack ReedOur new praetorian guard? Progressive groups ramp up pressure on Feinstein Gillibrand: Military must make changes beyond sexual assault cases MORE (D-R.I.) 

"What we have to guard against is reducing the capability. That means we have to continue to invest in the appropriate equipment [and] training for a smaller force," he told The Hill on Tuesday. 

Reed said he was not surprised by the Army's force reductions, given the end of the Iraq war and the Afghan war coming to a close 

"Every time we have concluded [a war] we have reduced the services," he said. 

A smaller, but fully capable Army will not send a signal to America's adversaries that the United States' military reach is waning. 

"I do think it is not, and should not, signal to anybody that we are puling back" from America's military commitments around the globe, Reed said. 

The troop cuts, he added, is the Army's recognition "we do not have the same kind of ground [wars] that require these types of forces."