Size of U.S. Military Since WWI

Yahoo Contributor Network

According to CNN, budget cuts of $487 billion over the next decade will force the United States to shrink the size of the Army and Marine Corps, reducing the nation's number of land-based troops. The Army is being reduced from 556,000 to 490,000 soldiers, says Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, while the Marine Corps is being reduced from 200,000 to 182,000 Marines.

In total, the troop reductions between the Army and Marine Corps drops the number of ground-fighting personnel from 756,000 to 672,000, an 11-percent reduction.

How will America's future military compare to its troop levels in the past, especially when compared to expense?

1918: According to, the United States had amassed an Army of some 3.5 million soldiers by the end of World War I.

1923: The General Staff called for the first peacetime assembly of an army, at which time the current U.S. Army had fewer than 400,000 troops.

1939: The Great Depression hindered the nation's ability to field a sizable Army, but in the last year of the decade president Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized an increase in Army size to 227,000 active-duty and 235,000 National Guard soldiers.

June 1940: As World War II begins in Europe, the United States plans to be able to equip an army of 1.2 million soldiers by October.

1942: By the end of the year, in response to America's entry into World War II, the Army had 5.4 million troops.

1943: The cost of equipping and supplying these soldiers costs around $68 billion. President Roosevelt sets a ceiling of 8.2 million as the maximum size of the Army to prevent worker shortages at home.

May 1945: U.S. Army reaches its peak strength of 8 million personnel.

1950: According to PBS, combined U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps strength is 667,466 troops. According to, total military spending for that year was $141.2 billion in actual dollars.

1955: Influenced by the Korean War, combined troop strength increases to 1,314,466, a 96.9 percent increase over 1950 levels, before being reduced by 20.6 percent by 1960. Military spending in 1955: $360.9 billion, falling 4.6 percent to $344.3 billion in 1960.

1968: Influenced by the Vietnam War, U.S. Army personnel levels during the Cold War reached a maximum of 1.57 million soldiers. U.S. Marines number over 259,000. Military spending in 1968: $449.3 billion.

1975-1985: U.S. Army soldiers remain relatively steady between 775,000 and 800,000. Marines stay steady between 190,000 and 200,000 troops. Military spending rises, however, from $293.3 billion in 1975 to $405.4 billion in 1985, a 38.2 percent increase.

1995: U.S. Army has been reduced to 508,599 and the Marine Corps has been reduced to 174,639, for a total of 683,238 ground-fighting personnel. Military spending falls to $321.6 billion. These troop levels are closest to the proposed total of 672,000 ground-fighting personnel after the Pentagon's current budget cuts. Military spending, however, will still exceed $500 billion per year.

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