US Defense Cuts May Force Pentagon Strategy Shift

Posted January 4th, 2012 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to make a rare appearance at the Pentagon Thursday to join his defense secretary and his joint chiefs of staff in unveiling a new defense strategy in line with billions of dollars in budget cuts.

The new plan is expected to end a decades-old strategy of maintaining a force capable of fighting two wars at once. Several U.S. news outlets reported the Pentagon will instead develop a strategy of fighting and winning one war, while being able to block or spoil aggressive actions elsewhere.

The news reports said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will announce plans to cut troop numbers, reduce civilian staff, and delay several new weapons programs, including construction of a new aircraft carrier. He also wants to find ways to cut personnel costs by reviewing military pensions and health care spending for troops and their families. Some news reports say troop levels could be cut by 10 percent – mostly from the Army and Marines.

The Defense Department faces cuts of at least $450 billion – about 8 percent of its budget – over the next decade. However, additional cuts, totaling more than $500 billion, may be possible as Congress and President Barack Obama seek ways to cut the U.S. budget deficit.

The Pentagon budget for this year is about $530 billion.

Many businesses, such as weapons and aircraft makers, are expected to feel the cuts.

On Wednesday, Boeing – one of the world's largest aircraft makers – said it plans to close a plant in the Midwestern state of Kansas next year, in part because of changing market needs. Among other things, the plant converts civilian aircraft to military use for the Pentagon. About 2,000 employees at the plant would lose their jobs.