"People who believe the world is safer, that we can do with less defense spending and 40,000 fewer soldiers, will take this as good news. I am not one of those people," Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Wednesday.
Thornberry's office said troop level reductions "are one of the few places where the military can achieve the savings mandated by defense cuts in the time required. The House Armed Services Committee has consistently warned about the size and pace of reductions in both end strength and defense spending and the negative impact on the country's national security."
The House and Senate approved cutting Army end-strength to 475,000 in 2016, and provided funding in the bill.
This would mark It's the second time tThe Army has, announced a drawdown plan, only to accelerate it under budget pressure. The Army said in 2013 that it would fall to 490,000 soldiers by 2017, but it is now due to hit that target at the end of this fiscal year. — down from The Army had 566,000 soldiers in 2010.
"With global instability only increasing, and with just 33 percent of the Army's brigade combat teams ready for deployment and decisive operations, there is simply no strategic basis to cut Army force structure below the pre-9/11 level of 490,000," McCain said.
Army Secretary John McHugh gave Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, the unwelcome news in a phone call Wednesday that the cuts include 4,350 soldiers from military installations in his state as part of the plan.
"I am demanding answers from the Department of Defense on how they are justifying these troop cuts in Georgia," Isakson said. "We cannot afford to reduce our military readiness at a time when the threats to our security here at home and throughout the world are growing at an alarming rate. Instead, we should be using our military to send a clear signal to the rest of the world that America has no intention of standing down in the fight against the threat of terrorism worldwide."
McCain called for a bipartisan solution to end "mindless sequestration," which would cut Army end-strength to 420,000, "increasing the risk that in a crisis, we will have too few soldiers who could enter a fight without proper training or equipment.
"Any conceivable strategic rationale for this cut to Army end-strength has been overturned by the events of the last few years from the rise of ISIL, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ebola crisis, and more," McCain said.
During the appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations, Odierno emphasized how busy the Army is. Nine of the Army's 10 active duty divisions remain involved to some degree in "named operations," or regional engagements around the world, he said.
The Army is expected to announce precisely where the cuts will land imminently. Allyn had said the Army's reorganization efforts would be ongoing through the end of the year.
"The challenge is we have taken all of the slack out of the rope," Allyn said. "We have reduced overseas to the maximum that we could already. The cuts are going to come largely within the continental United States. They are going to be very impactful. Our first hope is that Congress will pass the president's budget. Then we will exert the leadership necessary to eliminate sequestration as a continuing threat to our national security so that we can stop the bleeding at 450,000."
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.