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Army to announce bases affected by cuts, says force to be reduced by 40,000 troops

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U.S. Army Spc. Billy Marlow, assigned to 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera), simulates providing suppressive fire during Advanced Warrior Training (AWT) at Fort George G. Meade, Md., Oct. 8, 2014. Marlow participated in AWT to prepare for the upcoming battalion Field Exercise Training (FTX).

WASHINGTON — The Army this week will announce specific bases around the country that will be part of the next round of reductions in the force, with 40,000 troops to be cut by 2017, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday.

The reductions, which will also include 17,000 civilian employees to be cut from the payroll, are part of a longstanding plan that has been publicly discussed since last year.

Congress has been regularly briefed on the plan, but there has been discussion inside the Pentagon leadership that the cuts could grow even deeper if there are additional mandatory budget reductions from Congress.

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

Confronted by budget constraints, the Obama administration has looked to cut the size of the military, pledging to scale the Army back to its lowest troop level since before World War II. The Army announced in 2013 that it planned to cut about 80,000 troops.

At one point, right after the 9/11 attacks, the Army had 570,000 troops.

Nixing an army base is frequently controversial as community leaders and politicians look to defend their local bases and the jobs they support. At the Fort Polk army base in Louisiana, for instance, a community leader told The Associated Press that he’s confident their base will survive in the short term — though there is little that can be done as they wait.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what the announcement is,” said Michael Reese, chairman of Fort Polk Progress. “We have pretty good confidence we’ll come out of this next round OK.”

By Barbara Starr

CNN Pentagon Correspondent