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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.