President Barack Obama at the Pentagon on Thursday said that even though the Defense Department’s budget will shrink, the U.S. military will remain a strong force.
The first U.S. president to deliver a briefing at the Pentagon, Obama said, “Yes, our military will be leaner, but the world must know, the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with Armed Forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.”
The Pentagon is expected to cut troop levels and reduce the defense budget by at least $450 billion over the next decade. The briefing Thursday was short on details, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the president’s participation in a defense review is an “unprecedented process.” The Pentagon’s “strategic guidance” is outlined in a report here.
Panetta added that the U.S. military would need to shift its strategy regardless of the country’s economic condition. “We are at that point in history,” he said. “It’s a reality of the world we live in.” The U.S. also must be able to participate in multiple conflicts at one time, he added. “Our military will never be doing only one thing at one time,” he said.
While Panetta agreed with Obama that the U.S. military will remain capable across the spectrum, he did admit the defense cuts come with some level of “additional but acceptable risk.”
More details of the defense cuts are expected to come over the next several weeks.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com