U.S. Army plans more cuts, report says

United States Southern Command braces for possibility of more cuts


MIAMI - The United States Southern Command has been grappling with the cumulative effect of budget cuts enacted over the past few years.

Previous cuts in troops, ships, planes, Coast Guard cutters and other services have weakened operations, Gen. John F. Kelly said in a statement to Congress in March.

At Southern Command's headquarters in Miami-Dade County's Doral neighborhood, "we have implemented a 13 percent reduction in civilian billets and an 11 percent reduction in military ones," Kelly said.

Now the U.S. Army plans to cut 40,000 more soldiers and 17,000 more civilian employees over the next two years --  so there would be 450,000 soldiers by the end of the 2017 budget year, USA TODAY reported Tuesday.

The U.S. Army did not want to comment on the report, so it was unclear if the cuts were going to affect Southern Command again. This is after Kelly said that about 100 people from the Caribbean volunteered to join ISIS and had traveled to Syria.

"If they went over radicalized, one would expect they will come back at least that radicalized," Kelly said.

If the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration take place during fiscal year 2016 they "will likely eviscerate our already limited Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance capacity," Kelly said.

This, Kelly warned, could have some long-term consequences on the region's security.

Congressional notification of specific cuts at individual bases is expected to start later this week.

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