Despite the need to cut defense spending by more than $450 billion over the next decade, the potential exists for the nation to build a modern force that maintains its role as a global leader, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday at a speech before the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Achieving such a result will be challenging but will be greatly aided with the cooperation of Congress, reported CQ Today.
“To accomplish this will require that we navigate through some very perilous political waters — there are serious dangers ahead and very little margin for error,” Panetta said. Congress “must be a responsible partner in supporting a strong defense strategy that may not always include their favorite base or their favorite weapons system,” he added.
Areas with the largest capacity for absorbing cutbacks are defense modernization and operating accounts. “Every program, every contract, every facility will be scrutinized for savings that won’t reduce readiness or our ability to perform essential missions,” the secretary said.
Panetta highlighted the difficulties of slashing personnel costs — which are “on an unsustainable course” — and pledged not to trim pay and benefits of personnel currently serving, reported American Forces Press Service.
He also noted the need for the military to have the capacity to “fight in more than one area,” indicating that DOD may not be completely abandoning its aim of preparing to fight in two simultaneous theaters.