Panetta Outlines US Defense Budget Decisions

Posted January 26th, 2012 at 2:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Defense Department says the Obama administration will propose to Congress that U.S. ground forces be cut by 100,000 as part of nearly $500 billion in defense budget cuts during the next decade.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday that the administration will request a 2013 defense budget of $525 billion. That is $6 billion less than the request for the current fiscal year, which ends September 30.

Panetta said the plan is to increase the Pentagon budget to $567 billion by 2017.

He said the defense department is also asking for an additional $88 billion for overseas operations to maintain support for troops in Afghanistan. The plan also includes a shift in focus to the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East.

The announcement marks the start of this year’s annual budget debate. The White House is expected to send its national budget plan to Congress in mid-February.

President Barack Obama unveiled the new strategic plan for the military earlier this month.

More cuts are expected in the years ahead, as the Pentagon reduces the number of troops, delays or trims plans for buying new ships, aircraft and weapons, and shifts its focus to creating a more agile force.

Congress and the Obama administration battled all last year over the federal budget and national debt. Republicans in Congress have opposed White House efforts to raise revenue in addition, and said the administration’s proposed budget cuts were insufficient. However, many Republicans support deeper cuts in domestic programs rather than the military.