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Pentagon budget slashes Army size to smallest since World War II due to spending caps

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Monday it would slash the Army to pre-World War Two levels, eliminate the popular A-10 aircraft and reduce military benefits in order to meet 2015 spending caps, setting up an election-year fight with Congress over defense priorities.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, discussing the Pentagon’s plan for meeting its new spending caps ahead of the formal budget presentation on March 4, advanced a number of ideas that have been attempted in the past but rejected by Congress or are likely to be unpopular in a congressional election year.

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As the United States winds down the war in Afghanistan and looks to cut billions in defense spending, the Pentagon plans to continue shifting its focus to the Asia-Pacific and will no longer need a land Army of the size currently planned, Hagel said.

The department plans to reduce the size of the Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers, he said. The Army is currently about 520,000 soldiers and had been planning to draw down to about 490,000 in the coming year.

A reduction to 450,000 would be the Army’s smallest size since 1940 before the Second World War, when it had a strength of 267,767 troops, according to Army figures. The Army’s previous post-Second World War low was 479,426 in 1999.

The planned cut in Army strength comes as the Defense Department is in the process of reducing projected spending by nearly a trillion dollars over a 10-year period.

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A two-year budget deal in Congress in December gave the department some relief from the cuts, but still forced it to reduce spending in the 2014 fiscal year by $30 billion.

The Pentagon’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year is $496 billion, about the same as 2014 but still lower than had envisioned last year.

(Reporting by David Alexander, Andrea Shalal and Phil Stewart; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Trump wishes ‘Happy Birthday to the US Navy’ — with a picture of a Russian battlecruiser

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Adding to President Donald Trump's Russia obsession was an awkward misfire in a simple happy birthday message.

Sunday morning, before Trump set out on another day of golf, he tweeted a celebratory message to the U.S. Navy, which was officially established in 1775. Instead of showing photos of historic Navy ships or courageous sailors or decorated admiral, Trump posted a battleship, that isn't even an American ship.

According to Politico defense editor Dave Brown, the photo used in the graphic was Russian battlecruiser, the Pyotr Velikiy.

Democrats have alleged that Trump has an unnaturally close relationship to Russia, giving President Vladimir Putin whatever foreign policy demands he has.

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Former George W. Bush aide reveals why Republican talking points on Syria are complete crap

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During the weekend news shows, President Donald Trump's aides and allies took to televisions to justify the United States allowing Turkey to kill U.S. Kurdish allies.

"New Trumpist talking point," former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum began. "The only way to stop Turkey['s] massacre of Kurds is to go to war against Turkey."

That's an inaccurate framing, Frum explained.

"Turkey never believed that: that's why they asked Trump's permission to invade," he said. "All he had to do was say No. He said, Yes. Why? All the plausible answers are corrupt."

https://twitter.com/davidfrum/status/1183446682492637184

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John Dean laments Trump probably should be registered as a foreign agent

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While many of President Donald Trump's campaign staffers, advisers or friends have been outed for doing foreign work while being an unregistered foreign agent, one former White House counsel thinks Trump should also probably register.

"In addition to other impeachable offenses, Trump should be charged with failing to register as a foreign agent under FARA," said Twitter user Connie Gruen.

Dean noticed the tweet and retweeted with his own note that it's "sadly" probably true.

"Sadly, this is probably true," agreed Dean. "Mueller did not investigate if Trump is, in fact, a Russian agent. Barr does not believe a POTUS can be investigated for anything, so the FBI is not. Because he acts like a RU agent Congress should be investigating his consistently pro-RU behavior!"

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