In 2014, Who Needs a Standing Army and Why?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks during a press briefing on the Pentagon's Fiscal Year 2014 budget at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on April 10, 2013. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty)

In 1940, as Americans struggled with the lingering affects of the Great Depression, the U.S. Army had only 267,000 members on active duty.

As the country prepared to enter World War II, the following year, that number skyrocketed to 1.46 million. While the number of active-duty personnel has fluctuated in the sixty-plus years since, the Army has remained far above those pre-World War II levels.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wants to change all that. At a Pentagon briefing yesterday, he said, "We are repositioning to focus on the strategic challenges and opportunities that will define our future: new technologies, new centers of power, and a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable, and in some instances, more threatening to the United States."

Today, the Army has 522,000 soldiers on active duty. Hagel's proposed Pentagon budget would cut manpower even further, to somewhere between  440,000 and 450,000.

Many Pentagon officials have tried and failed to reduce troop levels over the last sixty years. Retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University and author of "Breach of Trust:  How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country," discusses whether Secretary Hagel might succeed where others have failed. He also examines what these cuts might mean for the future of the U.S. military.

Guests:

Andrew Bacevich

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Editors:

Allie Ferguson

Comments [4]

Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

What is the disconnect in this country to respect the men who enter the Military? They are only trying to protect the interests of this country with the unfriendly possibility of losing their lives or limbs.

Treat the people who enter our Military with the respect they deserve.
Our Army needs to become very picky as to who they will let in and should be by application only. Soldiers should be paid a higher salary,
Health Benefits need to be straightened out for our military:They need to be as good as our best corporations packages and include 401 k's etc. Each Soldier needs to pick a career path and become specialized. Do this and you cut costs.

Now in terms of generals and George C.Scott, Patton was great but how about George in Stanley Kubrick's "Doctor Strangelove"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuP6KbIsNK4

Some say he was doing Curtis Lemay in the film.

Feb. 25 2014 01:52 PM
Michael Hortens from Nyack, New York

I think Chuck Hagel is prudent and straightforward. Hopefully, what he proposes will be clear and get a fair hearing by Congress. Since so many states get military contracts, it will be interesting to see how Hagel sees the US economy changing. I wish him luck.

Feb. 25 2014 12:53 PM
Michael Hortens from Nyack, New York

I think Chuck Hagel is prudent and straightforward. Hopefully, what he proposes will be clear and get a fair hearing by Congress. Since so many states get military contracts, it will be interesting to see how Hagel sees the US economy changing. I wish him luck.

Feb. 25 2014 12:53 PM
James Schultz from Portsmouth RI

The a10 tank killer is not an equal the the new strike aircraft. It was brought back into service because it can take an large amount of punishment and remain in theater protecting the troops. Google for pics of damage to see what I mean. There is no way the new strike aircraft is going to be able to take that kind of punishment. That is why the troops on the grond (the ones getting shot) want it watching over them.

Feb. 25 2014 11:49 AM

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