News / USA

Obama Seeks $708 Billion for Defense in 'Complex, Uncertain' World

President Barack Obama, 30 Jan 2010
President Barack Obama, 30 Jan 2010
Al Pessin

Nearly 20 per cent of President Obama's budget for the next fiscal year, presented to the Congress Monday, is a request for $708 billion for the Department of Defense.  Even at a time of economic downturn and plans for a spending freeze on many government programs, that is an increase of 3.4% over the current defense budget, 1.8% after inflation.  It is the largest U.S. defense budget ever, but the increase from the current year is well below the 4% average annual increase of the past decade.  VOA reports from the Pentagon on how officials plan to spend the money.

The Pentagon budget, and two accompanying strategy reviews, lay out a plan that puts a high priority on winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and being ready to fight and win any future conflicts against global or regional powers, or against terrorist groups, or conflicts in space or cyberspace.  The documents also call for an increase in missile defense capability to defend against increasingly flexible, mobile, reliable, accurate and long range missiles being developed or obtained by several countries, including Iran and North Korea.

Speaking as the plan was released, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the goal of the policy reviews and budget proposals is to enable the U.S. military to prevail in the current wars and prepare for a risky and uncertain future.

"We have, in a sober and clear-eyed way, assessed risk, set priorities, made trade-offs and identified requirements based on plausible real-world threats, scenarios and potential adversaries," said Robert Gates.

The main policy document published Monday, the Quadrennial Defense Review, is designed to set the Defense Department's direction for the next four years.  It cites an increasingly complex global security environment, in which what it calls "non-state actors" - meaning terrorist groups - have access to more and more lethal and long-range technologies.  It also cites the potential proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the potential disruption caused by cyber attacks as critical concerns.  And the document says policy makers are increasing concerned about what it calls "powerful trends...likely to add complexity to the security environment," including rising demand for resources, urbanization, climate change, new strains of disease and "profound cultural and demographic tensions."

The Review says the United States must maintain "unmatched capabilities and a willingness" to use them when deterrence efforts fail.  But Secretary Gates noted that the plan also calls for more cooperation with the State Department and other agencies to promote stability, resolve conflicts and build the capacity of other nations to provide for their own defenses, in order to try to prevent wars.

"Both we and State see this as an area of real opportunity to try and prevent wars from happening, rather than having to deal with them once they've already started," he said.

The Quadrennial Defense Review says the U.S. military must maintain the ability to fight two major wars, which has been its requirement for many years, but must also develop and maintain the ability to fight smaller wars against multiple overseas adversaries, and also to protect the U.S. homeland and respond to natural disasters at home and abroad.  The document warns that missions may well occur "in multiple and unpredictable combinations."  Secretary Gates put some emphasis on the 'unpredictable' aspect in explaining his department's request for broad and varied capabilities.

"We have learned through painful experience that the wars we fight are seldom the wars we planned," said Gates. "As a result, the United States needs a broad portfolio of military capabilities, with maximum versatility across the widest spectrum of conflict."

Monday's documents also acknowledge that the all-volunteer U.S. military has been "significantly stressed" by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other global commitments.  It calls for policies and spending to support the troops, their families and veterans.

Regarding specific capabilities for today's fights, the budget and the review both call for more armored vehicles, helicopters and unmanned aircraft, along with more special operations forces, increased capability for counterinsurgency and stability operations, and more regional expertise related to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The president also submitted a request for an additional $33 billion for the current year to fund his plan to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
 

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid