Washington: The US Army said Thursday it aims to cut 40,000 soldiers from its ranks over the next two years in order to achieve target workforce reductions, confirming numbers leaked this week.
"We`ll do as much as possible of this through attrition," said Brigadier General Randy George, the army`s director of force management, during a press conference at the Pentagon.
"But I may have... to look captains, majors, soldiers, in the eyes... and tell them we are reducing," he added.
The eight percent cut would decrease the Army workforce from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers.
"Those are tough things to do but we do expect that that would happen," he added.
Once the cuts are fully implemented in 2018, the army will have reduced its size by 120,000 soldiers since 2012, or 21 percent, George said.
Some 17,000 civilians working for the army will also be cut under the plan.
"Unfortunately under sequestrations and budget cuts, today`s announcement may not be the last," George said, adding that the Army could be forced to shed 30,000 more soldiers by 2019, bringing the total to around 420,000.
Should that happen, the army would have to limit its permanent deployments around the globe to be able to continue to respond to emergency situations, he warned.
President Barack Obama has promised to stop automatic budgetary cuts, but will have to reach agreement with the Republican majority in Congress to do so.
During the peak of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Army swelled to 570,000 men and women.
The army will reduce its number of combat brigades from 32 to 30.
Personnel restructuring will hit Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Hood in Texas hard, with the loss of 3,402 and 3,350 soldiers respectively.
Four other bases in Alaska, Washington state, Hawaii and Texas will lose more than 1,000 men and women.