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Hagel finds resistance to plan to shrink US military for new era

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey (right), passed Chuck Hagel during a press conference.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey (right), passed Chuck Hagel during a press conference. Win McNamee/Getty Images

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WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress were quick to criticize some changes in the military being sought by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has proposed shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years, closing bases, and reshaping forces to confront a more volatile and unpredictable world.

The nation can afford a smaller military so long as it retains a technological edge and the agility to respond on short notice to crises anywhere on the globe, Hagel said Monday. He said the priorities he outlined reflect a consensus view among America’s military leaders.

In a speech at the one-year mark of his tenure as Pentagon chief, Hagel revealed many details of the defense spending plan that will be part of the 2015 budget that President Barack Obama will submit to Congress next week. Hagel described it as the first Pentagon budget to fully reflect the nation’s transition from 13 years of war.

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