There are 20,000 Marines in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. Apparently, that's not enough as the U.S. is about to send another 1,000. Overall, there are 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. What about the Pentagon budget cuts announced today? Cutting up to 47,000 troops from the Army and Marine Corps forces – roughly 6 percent – would be made easier by the withdrawal under way from Iraq, and the reductions would not begin until 2015, just as Afghan forces are to take over the security mission there. One way the Pentagon plans to recoup some money: charging vets more for health insurance: To make ends meet, Mr. Gates also announced that he would seek to recoup billions of dollars by increasing fees paid by retired veterans under 65 for Defense Department health insurance, even though Congress has rejected such proposals in the past. And what won't be affected by the cuts: The president's budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which is due by mid-February, would freeze discretionary spending, but that would not apply to military, veterans and Homeland Security programs.
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