Cuts to ranks may shock, but it's happened before

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Associated Press

Posted on December 19, 2012 at 6:34 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 19 at 7:33 AM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Thousands of service members and their families face uncertain times as wars end and the Pentagon heeds Congress' demand to pare its ranks. The economy is weak and unemployment rates high.

This sounds like today, but the scenario played out two decades ago after the Cold War ended and Soviet Union collapsed.

Pentagon officials who cut tens of thousands of soldiers say it's never easy to tell a volunteer they are no longer needed.

Now the Army — the military's largest branch — is cutting 80,000 soldiers over the next six years, while the Marines must drop about 20,000.

The changes are due to last summer's budget agreement between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, which outlined a half-trillion dollar cut in projected defense spending over 10 years.

This story is the latest installment in a joint initiative by The Associated Press and Associated Press Media Editors taking a closer look at this latest generation of war veterans as they return to civilian life, and the effect this is having on them, their families and American society.

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