US Defense Secretary announces cuts in Pentagon programs

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Monday, August 9, 2010

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Image: Monica King, United States Army.

Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense of the United States, has announced wide-ranging cuts in United States Military programs. In a press conference at 3pm EDT today, Gates said that, effective immediately, a number of top-line programs would be ending.

Ten per cent of the military intelligence budget is one of the lead items to be cut, said Gates, noting the huge increase in military intelligence money since 9/11. Meanwhile, "we're looking at cutting a third of the budget for services and support contracting over the next three years", Gates noted, saying that military contracting had proved inefficient compared to in-sourcing. Gates also proposed elimination of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, saying that while the command's function was important, it did not require a four-star general and 2,800 staff to operate.

The proposed cuts would particularly impact the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia, whose northern counties employ large numbers of defense contractors and Department of Defense employees. Gates said, though, that some of the money saved from program cuts might go to increased shipbuilding, noting "we probably need more money for shipbuilding", and that an expanded shipbuilding program would create jobs at shipyards in Norfolk, Virginia, with Virginia potentially gaining more jobs than it lost.

Gates did not announce new cuts in military hardware programs, but stated "any bill that takes the alternate engine to C-17s to the president, I am confident will be vetoed", referring to a proposed $485 million program for the aircraft.

"This agenda is not about cutting the department's budget. It is about reforming and reshaping priorities" said Gates, who cast the cuts as efficiency savings. "I am determined to change the way this department has done business for a long time." He also said the cuts were pre-emptive, to stave off deeper cuts mandated by Congress: "My fear is that in tough times, people will see the defense budget as a place to solve the nation's economic problems."

Today's announcement, according to Gates, is part of a larger program of defense spending cuts. "This effort will not end this fall or with the FY 12 budget submission".


Sources

Wikinews
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