Cut the Army to 450,000 soldiers and it might not be able to sustain a war with high casualties in its opening days. That smaller Army might also be led by poorly qualified field commanders.
Until Wednesday, the Army and the Pentagon have been vague about the effects of dropping from its preferred level of 490,000 soldiers to the 440,000 to 450,000 forecast in President Obama's budget. It has about 520,000 soldiers now.
"This is the pitfall the Army faces with no likely opponent to face: There is no obvious floor for how big a standing force to keep around," said Russell Rumbaugh, a military budget expert at the Stimson Center, a non-partisan national security think tank.