Top US Army general backs plan to cut 80,000 troops

WASHINGTON - The US Army's topgeneral on Friday endorsed plans to reduce the size of his forceby 80,000 soldiers over the next six years, pledging a steadydrawdown that would take care of troops and their familiesrather than "running our nation's Army off a cliff."

General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said thedrawdown would begin this year and take place mainly throughattrition. It would include withdrawal of two heavy infantrybrigades from Europe, one in 2013 and another in 2014, both ofwhich would be removed from the force rather than relocating tothe United States.

"With the successful completion of our mission in Iraq...and the... reduction of US presence in Afghanistan, ourstrategy calls for us to no longer plan for large scalestability operations," Odierno said. "Accordingly the time isstrategically right to reduce the Army's force structure."

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