The Department of Defense has released a blueprint for how it would reduce its spending by $259 billion over the next five years. The reductions would bring the department’s budget in line with the spending caps mandated by last year’s deficit reduction agreement.

At a press conference to announce the plan, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff defended the proposal as a carefully crafted, balanced package. Secretary Panetta noted, “while some programs are eliminated or delayed, others are increased. The budget looks to re-shape the military to be more agile, quick and flexible that incorporates the lessons learned in 10 years of war.”

The proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013 would be one percent less than current spending; this does not include the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Programs targeted for spending reductions include several weapons programs, military base closures, and changes to the military’s health care program.

Military investments in research and development may be protected. According to a document released by the Department of Defense: “The Department believes that accelerating trends in both technology development and a dynamic threat environment dictate that we must maintain our edge by protecting our investments in development of future capabilities. As such, science and technology programs are largely protected within this budget.”

Since the release, various Department of Defense officials have publically stressed that the budget plan is based on strategy and will help shape the force for the future. “While the pain of cuts will be felt across the country, it will also ensure a strong, agile military for the future,” said Panetta. The budget must pass Congress, and the secretary has said he hopes members of Congress understand the strategy and nuances of the budget.

“My hope is that when members understand the sacrifice involved in reducing the defense budget by half a trillion dollars, it will convince Congress to avoid sequestration, a further round of cuts that would inflict severe damage to our national defense for generations,” Panetta said.

Full details on the proposed budget reductions will be available on 13 February, when President Obama releases his spending plan for FY 2013.


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