40,000 soldiers 'to be cut from US Army' as it shrinks to smallest size since WWII

A further 17,000 civilian jobs would also likely go if the cuts went ahead

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The Independent US

The US Army plans to cut 40,000 soldiers over the coming two years, according to documents seen by USA Today.

If they go ahead, the cuts will affect all domestic and foreign posts and see the US Army constrict to its smallest number since before World War II. The number of active-duty soldiers would drop to 450,000.

On top of the 40,000 soldiers, a further 17,000 civilian staff are, USA Today said, set to lose their jobs.

Defence officials had expected some of the cuts, as the peak of on-the-ground fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan had dropped.

On Tuesday they confirmed that there would be reductions in staff but did not reveal details about how many or from which departments.

The troop reductions were initially announced in February 2014 when then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the Pentagon's budget for the 2015 fiscal year. The figures were also included in the Pentagon's four-year planning document, the Quadrennial Defense Review 2014.

The personnel cuts come as the Pentagon is attempting to absorb nearly $1 trillion in reductions to planned defence spending over a decade.

Additional reporting by Reuters