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Odierno: Army could shrink below 520,000

The Army may shrink further than expected, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters on Monday.

Current plans call for the Army’s active duty end strength to fall from 570,000 to 520,000, but Odierno left the door open for further cuts during a news conference Monday at this year’s Association of the United States Army convention.

“If you’re asking me do I think we’ll go below 520 (thousand)? Probably,” Odierno said. “Do I know what that number is going to look like? I do not, and part of it is I don’t know what the cuts are going to be that the Department of Defense gets. We don’t know what that is yet.”

Odierno made similar comments during a roundtable with reporters last month.

“I’m comfortable with 520,” he said at the time. “Do I think we’re going to end up at 520? Probably not. So, what is the right number?”

On Monday, Odierno vowed “no matter what happens, we’re not going to have a hollow force,” but he added that the military would have to rethink its strategy given limited resources.

“We said we could do two simultaneous contingencies back in 2001 when the Army was at 480 (thousand),” he said. “I would argue we have proven in the last 10 years we could not.”

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