Decision to cut troops raises doubts about ‘US war ability’

Updated 09 July 2015
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Decision to cut troops raises doubts about ‘US war ability’

WASHINGTON: The US Army is to cut 40,000 soldiers from its ranks over the next two years at home and abroad, a defense official said Tuesday, in a move that will raise doubts about its ability to fight wars.

Under the cost-cutting plan, the army will be down to 450,000 soldiers at the end of the 2017 budget year, even though in 2013 it argued in budgetary documents that going below 450,000 troops might mean it could not win a war, USA Today said.
By comparison, the army swelled to 570,000 men and women during the peak of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the newspaper said.
Some 17,000 civilians working for the army will also be laid off, the official told AFP, confirming the USA Today report.
The paper quoted a document it had obtained and said the cuts are being made to save money.
It will affect virtually every army post domestically and abroad, USA Today said
The defense official told AFP that the army plans to announce the cuts soon, with USA Today adding that the matter would be addressed this week.
Across-the-board government budget cuts are due to kick in in October and if Congress does not avert these the army will have to lay off another 30,000 soldiers on top of the 40,000, according to the document quoted by USA Today.
It comes just a day after President Barack Obama said that the US-led coalition fighting the Daesh group would step up its campaign in Syria, while cautioning a long battle remained.
Brigades stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska will be among those downsized, USA Today said.
Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, told the paper that the cutdown “makes no strategic sense.”
More than a year after IS fighters overran much of Iraq and Syria, the US and its allies are struggling to turn the tide against the extremists in an air campaign known as Operation Inherent Resolve.
The Pentagon last month said it was sending 450 additional US troops to act as advisers to help Iraqi forces seize back control of the western city of Ramadi from fighters.
Speaking to reporters after a briefing at the Pentagon on Monday, Obama warned the war “will not be quick. This is a long-term campaign.” He added that more needed to be done to train government forces and Sunni tribal fighters in Iraq, as well as moderate Syrian rebels.


Prince William visits Namibia on conservation tour

Updated 24 September 2018
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Prince William visits Namibia on conservation tour

  • The tour will see the prince visit Tanzania and Kenya
  • It precedes the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London next month

WINDHOEK: Prince William arrived in Namibia on Monday on the first leg of a tour to learn more about wildlife conservation in Africa ahead of a London-based wildlife conference next month.
Namibia is home to the largest black rhino population, at more than 2,000, whose horn is sought after by smugglers.
The Duke of Cambridge, visiting as president of United for Wildlife, which fights illegal trade in wildlife, and patron of Tusk, which promotes conservation, aims to better understand conservation in Namibia, said British High Commissioner to Namibia Kate Airey.
“The prince has been very keen ahead of that conference to talk to government and also to see that experience in the field,” said Airey.
The tour, which will see the prince visit Tanzania and Kenya, precedes the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London next month.
Namibia passed legislation in 1996 giving local communities the power to create their own conservancies and benefit from wildlife on communal land, allowing them to work with private companies to create their own tourism products.
“Our model is very simple but very effective because we involve communities. There is nothing you can do to succeed in conservation of wildlife without involving communities,” said Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta.
Communal conservancies have grown to 82 from four in 1998, according to the Namibia Tourism Board.