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US Defense Cuts May Force Pentagon Strategy Shift

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (File Photo).
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (File Photo).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce a plan to end the Pentagon's strategy of maintaining a force capable of fighting two wars at once.

The end to a decades-old policy, expected to be unveiled Thursday in Washington, is part of a strategic review that Panetta had ordered to find ways to cope with coming budget cuts.

Several U.S. news outlets reported the Pentagon will develop a strategy of fighting and winning one war, while being able to block or spoil aggressive actions elsewhere.

The news reports said Panetta will announce plans to cut troop numbers, reduce civilian staff, and delay several new weapons programs, including construction of a new aircraft carrier. He also wants to find ways to cut personnel costs by reviewing military pensions and health care spending for troops and their families. Some news reports say troop levels could be cut by 10 percent - mostly from the Army and Marines.

The Defense Department faces cuts of at least $450 billion - about 8 percent of its budget - over the next decade. However, additional cuts, totaling more than $500 billion, may be possible as Congress and President Barack Obama seek ways to cut the U.S. budget deficit.

The Pentagon budget for this year is about $530 billion.

Many businesses, such as weapons and aircraft makers, are expected to feel the cuts.

On Wednesday, Boeing - one of the world's largest aircraft makers - said it plans to close a plant in the Midwestern state of Kansas next year, in part because of changing market needs. Among other things, the plant converts civilian aircraft to military use for the Pentagon. About 2,000 employees at the plant would lose their jobs.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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