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Proposed military cuts under heavy scrutiny

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 25 2014 09:03:05 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 25 2014 09:50:05 PM CST

A defense budget recently introduced by the Obama Administration could shrink the U.S. Army to Pre-World War II levels.

A defense budget recently introduced by the Obama Administration could shrink the U.S. Army to Pre-World War II levels.

Supporters think it's necessary to limit spending, but critics believe it shouldn't be at the cost of national security.

"We must now adapt, innovate and make difficult decisions to ensure that our military remains ready and capable," said U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

While Hagel said cutting the army by 70,000 troops is drastic, he said technology has changed how America uses its military.

"I'm not sure it takes you the same amount of people today to do what they did in 1939," Hagel said.

Supporters of Hagel's budget proposal said intelligence is the best defense against America's biggest threat--terrorism.

But U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent said America's biggest threat is the one the military isn't prepared to fight.

"We are not always aware of those threats until they strike," Dent said.

Critics believe a smaller army would put a strain on national security and readiness.

"You have to have boots on the ground no matter what kind of war we get into," said Irv Weinreich, a Vietnam veteran.

The proposal could also pose problems for the National Guard--20,000 positions could be axed.

Pennsylvania is home to the third largest National Guard force.

"The National Guard are a great value to this country….Many of them are enormously experienced. And they also perform other critical missions for this country, a homeland security dimension too for disaster relief," Dent said.

It's unclear how, or if, the proposal would affect a base in Monroe County.

A spokesperson for the Tobyhanna Army Depot said current Department of Defense constraints have already had implications on the depot.

More than 1,700 positions were slashed over the last two years.

It expects to lose 154 more in April through early retirement incentives.