UPDATE: This story, originally published Feb. 10, was updated to include details about the bill's sponsorship and to correct the bill's end-strength target.
Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., said Wednesday that his bipartisan bill would, if approved, stop the drawdown. He argued the world is less safe than it was when the Obama administration announced the troop cuts, pointing to threats from the Islamic State group, Russia, China and North Korea.
"The assumptions have significantly changed," Gibson told reporters on Wednesday, adding later: "Stay tuned, in the very near future we're going to have some legislative action come forward, but we think it's essential … that this drawdown needs to stop, and that the next president make assessments of what the proper level of land forces should be."
The chairman of the House Tactical Air Land subcommittee, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, is co-sponsoring the bill with Gibson.
For the Marine Corps, which planned to drawdown to 182,000 by the end of fiscal 2017, the proposed bill would in essence add back 2,000 troops. The Marine Corps drawdown to 182,000 is expected to be complete in October.
The Army estimated its reductions of about 40,000 troops would save $7 billion over four years, officials said when they were announced in July. The reduced troop levels were attributed to mandatory spending caps under the 2011 Budget Control Act.
A top Army budget official said Thursday any major changes in end-strength would complicate budgetary planning, with a ripple effect throughout its school houses, missions, recruiting and retention plans, and particularly its force structure.
"We've tried to align our end strength and our force structure, so depending upon if there was some kind of a change of sizable magnitude, then we would probably be looking at our force structure and the decision we made there, as well," Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander, the Army budget director, told reporters Wednesday.
In a major war overseas, at 980,000 soldiers, the Army would not have enough troops to provide them with "dwell time," the rotation home which has been common in recent conflicts.
"In a full-scale mobilization, a commitment to a large-scale operation in any future theater of war, at the size of the Army that is anticipated, there is no dwell time," Ham said. "For the most part they deploy and they are committed for the duration."
US Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) stand at attention on May 13, 2014, during a formation aboard the USS Bataan (LHD 5).
Photo Credit: Sgt. Austin Hazard/Marine Corps
After the hearing, Turner appeared with Gibson at an impromptu press conference where both lawmakers decried the ongoing military drawdown.
"If the next president of the United States comes in and tries to restore the cuts to the Army, it will be a full three years before the Army is fully capable again; that would be the president's whole first term," Turner said. "We certainly can't predict what threats the president might have to face. It's important we follow through and stop this drawdown."
The remarks came a day after the White House released its 2017 budget proposal, which for the Pentagon includes a $523.9 billion base budget and $58.8 billion wartime budget. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, Turner and other House lawmakers are arguing for more for defense.
Turner said Wednesday that he had met with House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., to discuss the matter.
"Chairman Price has heard from both current and former members of the military that the drawdown of the Army is of concern, and he is very much aware that this is something we need to look at, how we put together resources to stop it," Turner said.
Key Republican lawmakers have decried the Army's drawdown plans, and in July, when details were first made public, Thornberry and Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted the force cuts as budget driven.
In January, Eric Fanning, the presidential nominee to become the next US Army secretary, vowed at his Senate confirmation hearing that he would review the Army cuts.
Marine Corps Times Staff Writer Jeff Schogol contributed to this report.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.