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Hagel to Propose Major Reduction in Army Forces

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Adm. James Winnefeld in July, 2013 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says that as part of the proposed 2015 defense budget, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel is recommending shrinking the Army to its smallest size in decades.

Hagel is expected to announce that and other recommendations Monday in a speech at the Pentagon outlining his priorities for next year’s defense budget.

Army leaders have been saying for months that they expected to absorb additional troop reductions as the nation prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan this year. The Army is already scheduled to shrink to 490,000 active-duty members from a wartime peak of 570,000. Hagel is expected to propose cutting it further to between 440,000 and 450,000.

That’s according to a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to be identified discussing the proposals before Hagel’s speech.

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