A debate is brewing in Washington over the size of the U.S. Army. According to Yahoo! News, Pentagon officials want to shrink the size of the Army to pre-World War II levels.

Saying it was time to "reset" for a new era, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended shrinking American forces from 520,000 active duty troops to between 440,000 and 450,000.

In a speech outlining the proposed defense budget, he said Monday that after Iraq and Afghanistan, US military leaders no longer plan to "conduct long and large stability operations."

If approved by Congress, the Pentagon move would reduce the army to its lowest manning levels since 1940, before the American military dramatically expanded after entering World War II.

The proposed 13 percent reduction in the army would be carried out by 2017, a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The spending plan is the first to "fully reflect" a transition away from a war footing that has been in place for 13 years, Hagel said at a press conference.

The plan comes amid growing fiscal pressures and after years of protracted counter-insurgency campaigns, which saw the army reach a peak of more than 566,000 troops in 2010.

Having withdrawn US forces from Iraq in 2011, President Barack Obama has promised to end America's combat role in Afghanistan by the end of this year.

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