New budget would cut 100K soldiers

By Ashley Harding - Reporter, Chris Robbins - Producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In a budget set to be unveiled next month, a plan will be proposed to remove 100,000 men and women fighting on the battlefield -- an alarming sign of the times for one local retired sergeant who said these proposed Army cuts will have a direct impact on those who remain behind.

Officials said with this reduction, the number of soldiers would dwindle down to just 420,000 by 2019. Some Army leaders have said it would be one of the highest profile changes to the military. They also said it could impact how missions are carried out.

A retired sergeant, Charles Fails, served in the U.S. Army for more than 40 years. For him, it's all about the good of the soldiers. He says by reducing the number of them, it would just make it harder for them to do their jobs. Eventually, he said, they'll get burned out.

"It's fine that they want to cut back on money, but we're trying to do a mission," Fails said.

Fails said the number of soldiers is already down from what it's been in the past. He said by giving the remaining soldiers more to do, it would do more harm that good.

"It's a showing," said Fails. "So by cutting more soldiers and everything else, and to keep sending us places, they're getting tired, they're getting burned out."  

While some officials have wondered if cutting back on the number of soldiers would make things harder out on the front line, Fails said it will all come down to prioritizing. 

"The thing is, on some of these missions, are they essential? Are they necessary? Just don't throw us in to be a police force. We're the U.S. military," Fails said. 

Since his retirement, Fails now works alongside veterans groups. He said his hope is that the focus will be on the good of the soldiers.

"We're having a hard time keeping a lot of the younger soldiers in the military because that's not a life they want to live. They're proud about being soldiers, proud of serving," Fails said. The problem is, how can you have a life when you're gone all the time?"

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