With troops slated to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and the Army shrinking by 80,000 over the next five years, military officials say they plan on reshaping training going forward. Specifically, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno wants more conventional units to be aligned with Special Operations forces, The New York Times reports.
The shifting training standards come as military strategists try to adopt the hard-earned lessons from more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. By focusing on Special Operations, Odierno believes the Armed Forces will be better able to respond to certain places around the world despite the reduction in size.
"Although maintaining a smaller active-duty army will involve some risks, those risks will be less than some believe because of the changes that have taken place in the Army in recent years," Odierno wrote in a recent op-ed in Foreign Affairs. "Today's force is qualitatively different from the Army of a decade ago."
The training also brings to focus the role the military will play on a global scale. According to the Times, officials are likely to turn their attention toward forming partnerships with foreign countries to assist them in dealing with security threats. The plan seems to be in line with one outlined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta earlier this year, which aimed to create a more streamlined military.
A perfect example of the new role the military is expected to play in the coming years is how the troops in the South Pacific are being handled. Recently, the United States and Japan came to an agreement that would move 9,000 Marines stationed in Japan to several other islands spread throughout the region, Reuters reports.
Not only will the shift help reduce the significant American presence in Japan, but it will also help the United States focus its efforts on the region, something which has been a priority as of late.
"This is really a key component of our strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region," a senior State Department official told the news agency.
The proposed policy changes come just as the House Armed Services Committee starts laying the groundwork for the next defense spending bill. According to Politico, the debate could be a long one, with many Congressmen disagreeing over the proposed budget. The biggest issue has been whether to cut spending on weapons development, but some say not doing so would result in changes to important military benefits.