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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs