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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs