Pentagon official signals possible Army layoffs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Pentagon official is signaling that the Army could lay off as many as 24,000 enlisted personnel and up to 5,000 officers to meet a projected reduction in the force.

Thomas Lamont, who is an assistant secretary of the Army, told a Senate Armed Services panel on Wednesday that he has seen numbers in that range. He said they were rough estimates based on assumption and attrition rates.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in announcing the Pentagon budget earlier this year, said the Army would shrink from a peak of 570,000 to 490,000 within five years. The Marines would drop by 20,000, to 182,000.

The Pentagon has indicated that the reductions would come through attrition. Lamont was pressed by Sen. Kelly Ayotte R-N.H., about involuntary terminations.

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