The US Army is expected to announce plans to cut 40,000 soldiers over the next two years, bringing troop size down to 450,000. An additional 17,000 civilian employees working for the Army are also expected to be laid-off.

The cuts would reduce the number of US service personnel to their lowest level since 1940, a year before the US entered World War Two. As a further comparison, in 2000 - one year before September 11 - There were 480,000 individuals serving in the US Army.

The Army argue that reductions are required in order to adhere to Congressional spending cuts. President Obama's original defense budget request of $534.3 billion for 2016, represented a 7.7% increase on the previous year.

However, the additional $38 billion is higher than the level imposed by Congress in the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The cuts are expected to affect a number of the Army's domestic and foreign bases, which have both been expanded during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2012, during the height of these two wars, US service personnel reached a height of 570,000. 80,000 soldiers have since been discharged after the US's withdrawal from combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014.

The US army are concerned that with 450,000 troops, they will be unable to meet its current deployments nor effectively respond to potential developments in other regions. Currently, 10,000 troops remain in Afghanistan after plans for a gradual withdrawal were delayed until 2016.

In Iraq there are about 3,500 military personnel helping Iraqi forces fight ISIS.

The cuts have divided US public opinion. Many consider the cuts a sensible measure. With only 13,500 troops being actively deployed, coupled with the expansion of drone operations, which have proved effective at projecting US power without placing troops in danger, the US do not currently require such a large standing army.

However, other analysts are worried that such reductions will render the US Army incapable and unwilling to fight ISIS, should their influence expand in the Middle East. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan, has also argued that cuts will reduce the US's ability to deter Russia in Eastern Europe, stating that "one person who's going to be very pleased with this is Vladimir Putin".

The US Army is also concerned, that should automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, begin in October, the Army will have to lay-off another 30,000 soldiers. Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution has argued that 450,000 should be the upper limit of troop reductions, "more would make me quite nervous", he said.

The US Army will not be the only military branch affected by cuts. If Congress does not give the military the funds requested, then the US Air Force will have to cut $10 billion from their budget, leading to a reduction of 10,000 personnel. This would reduce the US Air Force from 492,000 to 482,000 for regular and reserve forces.

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