News / USA

Obama Seeks Major Cuts in Defense Budget, Still World’s Largest

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, February 14, 2011
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, February 14, 2011
Al Pessin

President Barack Obama’s U.S. budget proposal includes $671 billion for the defense department - a cut from the current year, but still by far the largest military budget in the world.  

The U.S. military is fighting a war in Afghanistan and has nearly 50,000 troops in Iraq.  But the wars are a relatively small and decreasing part of the defense budget.  In the fiscal year starting in October, the president wants $118 billion for the two missions - $41 billion less than the current year and well under 20 percent of the total request.  The overall proposed defense budget is five percent smaller than the current year, and more than 10 percent less than Pentagon officials had wanted for this year.

Big budget categories include salaries and benefits for America’s 2.3 million men and women in uniform, money to care for the wounded and funding for expensive, high-technology equipment.  Key planned purchases include more unmanned aircraft for surveillance and attack, more and better helicopters for missions ranging from counterterrorism to disaster relief and a new long-range bomber.  The Pentagon also plans to spend $25 billion dollars for navy shipbuilding and $1.3 billion to improve the U.S. military’s cyber security.

There is also money for priority programs like missile defense in the Pacific and Europe, a new submarine for launching ballistic missiles and the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  The Pentagon also wants to spend $12 billion for research that officials say will sustain the U.S. military's "technological superiority.”  Funds will also be set aside to help foreign militaries fight terrorism, to continue to build the new Afghan security forces and to finish the transition in Iraq to local security responsibility.

Presenting the figures on Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates put the proposed budget it in the context of a two-year-old effort to improve the department’s efficiency, while modernizing the force and preparing it to fight and win conflicts ranging from today’s counterinsurgencies to potential future, high-technology conventional and cyber wars.

"In all these budget requests, if enacted by Congress, we’ll continue our efforts to reform the way the department does business, fund modernization programs needed to prepare for future conflicts, reaffirm and strengthen the nation’s commitment to care for the all-volunteer force, including training and support, and ensure that our troops and commanders on the front lines have the resources and support they need to accomplish their mission," said Secretary Gates.

The defense budget includes the cancellation or reduction of several programs Gates says are unnecessary or over-priced.  Among the programs being cut are a new amphibious vehicle for the Marine Corps and a surface-to-air missile the Army wanted.  And Gates pledged to end the program to develop an alternate engine for the new U.S. fighter jet, which some members of Congress support.

Anticipating that the mood in Congress to cut spending will continue in order to reduce the huge U.S. government budget deficit, defense department planners project a further cut of $50 billion in 2013, and only modest growth after that to keep up with expected inflation.  

But at Monday’s briefing, Secretary Gates was highly critical of some members of Congress who want to make immediate and sharp cuts in defense spending, including reductions that would take affect during the current fiscal year, which is nearly half over.

“I’m concerned that the debate over the defense budget in recent days and weeks is becoming increasingly distant from strategic and operational reality, distant, in other words, from the real world," he said.

Gates said his department faces a “crisis” if it is forced to operate on $23 billion less this year, as some in Congress want.  He said a $9 billion cut would be acceptable, but not more.   

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid