Proposal to Shrink Military Raises Red Flags

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is recommending big cuts to the 2015 defense budget that would include shrinking the Army to its smallest size since 1940.

The smaller, more nimble military would be able to respond on short notice to crises anywhere on the globe but wouldn't have the manpower to be part of larger ground wars, like in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We chose further reduction in troop strength in order to sustain our readiness and technological superiority," Hagel said.

The Army is already scheduled to reduce active-duty members down to 490,000. That number had reached 570,000 during the height of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the new proposed cuts would shrink the ranks further to between 440,000 and 450,000.

The defense secretary insisted the smaller military won't put the United States at risk. But both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are questioning the new battle plan.

Rep. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., head of the House Armed Services Committee, accused the Obama administration of "trying to solve our financial problems on the backs of our military."

And Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., predicted the proposed changes will face a "huge challenge" from lawmakers.

***Will Congress agree with Hagel's proposed cuts? Lou Celli, legislative director of the American Legion, answers this and more below:

But Hagel said budget constraints demand changes be made.

"This is the time for reality," he said. "This is a budget that recognizes the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges."

The proposal comes at a time when other major powers, like China and Russia, are investing heavily in their military capabilities. And the United States still faces threats from multiple areas of the world.

Lou Celli, legislative director of the American Legion, told CBN News military cuts are always perceived as weakness.

"Terrorists are going to look at a reduction in military force as a win for them and a possible opportunity to gain the upper hand," he said.

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Caitlin Burke

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