Nightly News   |  February 24, 2014

Pentagon Cuts Could Slash 90,000 Soldier Jobs

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stressed the cuts are necessary because of tight budgets and a changing battlefield.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now, after 13 years of war fare for this country, the u.s. now has a new defense battle plan that involves shrinking down the military to levels not seen since before world war ii . the obama administration says it is not only about re-shaping backups, it is also about re-thinking the way we fight in the future. and these proposed cuts have already set off the kind of war fare they conduct in washington, our report tonight on all of it from our pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski .

>> reporter: outside fort benning , georgia, these cadets were glued on the information about the military cuts.

>> it means i wouldn't get paid as much. and it means they may not even want me as a pilot.

>> reporter: the pentagon's budget could slash up to 90,000 soldiers from the army, down to 440,000, the lowest level since pre- world war ii . the entire wing of the attack aircraft and the cold war spy plane would also be taken out of service, defense secretary chuck hagel said the cuts are necessary to deal with the tight budgets and a changing battlefield.

>> this plan goes along with the need to be realistic for budget levels.

>> reporter: for now, there appears to be no need for big army war fare, for now, the wars in react and afghanistan will be over. instead of large-scale ground wars military operations predict special forces will engage in smaller, tighter admissions. but the defense secretary warns the reduction in force could only come at a higher cost.

>> that means if you have fewer forces you will have higher risks.

>> reporter: some congressional lawmakers are already threatening to do battle over this budget.

>> what we're trying to do is solve the financial problems on the backs of our military and that can't be done.

>> reporter: but the joint chiefs adviser said he would not put america's defense at risk.

>> this budget helps us remain the world's finest military, modern, capable and ready even while transitioning to a smaller, more affordable force over time .

>> reporter: even though some military programs would take a heavy hit, under this budget overall pentagon spending would somehow increase by $115 billion over the next five years. jim miklaszewski , nbc news, the pentagon.