Defense officials will slash $78 billion in program spending and begin cutting up to 70,000 Soldiers and Marines as federal budget officials tighten the purse strings on military spending.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said none of the end-strength cuts are immediate, but in the next five years, officials will begin trimming about 49,000 Soldiers from the Army and up to 20,000 Marines from the Corps. He could not say how long the process may take, but it is expected to save about $6 billion and help close an anticipated $24 billion hole in defense spending.
“Ever since taking this post, now four years ago, I’ve called for protecting force structure and maintaining modest but real growth in the defense top line over the long term,” Gates said in a Pentagon press conference Thursday. “But this country’s dire fiscal situation and the threat it poses to American influence and credibility around the world will only get worse unless the U.S. government gets its finances in order.”