President Scheduled to Introduce Shift in Pentagon Strategy
In a rare appearance by a president at the Pentagon, President Obama is planning to speak at the beginning of a 10:50 a.m. news conference Thursday during which top officials will unveil the strategy that will guide decisions needed to trim $450 billion in defense spending through 2021.
The briefing, which also will include Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, is not expected to reveal budget cuts to specific programs, but rather will pave the way for changes in the military’s force structure and weapons programs.
The department’s leadership, however, has discussed a variety of strategic shifts in defense policy, including abandoning the aim of fighting two sustained wars simultaneously. Officials also are considering paring the size of the Army to 490,000 soldiers, reported the New York Times. The service’s end strength already is set to decline from 570,000 troops to 520,000. Panetta has emphasized that he wants to ensure the downsizing is accomplished carefully so that veterans do not flood a bleak job market, according to the story.
The size of the Marine Corps also would be shrunk, although Marines are expected to play a key role in the nation’s heightened commitment to the Asia-Pacific region. That focus also is behind the decision to hold the military’s fleet of aircraft carriers steady at 11.