By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - The U.S. Army is looking to cut about 2,000 positions for captains and majors by the end of the year as part of its overall plans to reduce its active duty numbers due to budget cuts, the Army's chief of staff said on Wednesday.
"Probably this year, we will ask 1,500 captains to leave the service, and we will ask probably 400 to 500 majors to leave the service," General Ray Odierno, the Army's top officer, told reporters at an event in Texas.
"That is because we have to get down to the appropriate size."
The Pentagon said last month it would shrink the U.S. Army to pre-World War Two levels, eliminate the popular A-10 aircraft and reduce military benefits in order to meet 2015 budget spending caps.
Odierno says most of the officers who will be removed from the ranks have served "honorably and heroically on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan" and letting them go will be difficult.
He said the planned cut of the Army to 490,000 active duty soldiers will be reached by the end of 2015 and will not prevent the service from carrying out its current missions.
"Depending on the decisions of Congress, we could get as small as 420,000 in the active component," Odierno said.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)