Accessibility links

US Defense Secretary Unveils Plan to Reshape Military

On Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates revealed an initiative to shape the American military into a force better suited to today's unconventional wars, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates proposed a $534 billion defense budget for 2010 he says will "profoundly reform" the way the Pentagon buys weapons and does business.

Gates says he is taking an "unorthodox approach" to slashing military funding and shifting spending priorities. This includes scaling back spending on some costly weapons for conventional warfare but also includes cuts for weapons programs Gates calls ill-suited for fighting insurgents.

"This is a reform budget, reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, also addressing the range of other potential threats around the world now and in the future," he said.

Gates says more money would be spent equipping special forces that can hunt down insurgents. He says more needs to spent on the the Army and Marines to expand the number of troops.

Gates wants to stop production of the F-22 fighter jet, which was designed as a combat tool against the Soviet Union and other former enemies. But he proposes increasing production of the more versatile and cheaper F-35 fighter plane.

He also addressed initiatives against long-range missile threats.

"We will continue to robustly fund continued research and development to improve the capability we already have to defend against long-range missile rogue threats - a threat North Korea's missile launch this past weekend reminds us is real," he said.

The budget is likely to face resistance in Congress, where lawmakers in some states are opposed to losing defense contractor jobs. Some companies are warning of huge layoffs if their programs are cut.