President Barack Obama Jan. 5 spelled out his approach for trimming defense spending dramatically now that the U.S. military’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan is winding down and pressure is building to reduce the nation’s budget deficit.
The president unveiled his plan for a military profile that will be “leaner” but still be “agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats,” in a rare public appearance at the Pentagon. The administration is under pressure to reduce defense spending by almost $500 billion over the next ten years.
“Yes, the tide of war is receding, but the question that this strategy answers is what kind of military will we need long after the wars of the last decade are over,” Obama said. “And today, we’re fortunate to be moving forward from a position of strength.”
Obama said this means the country will be moving towards more modern technologies and will differ in the way it fights wars. Obama said while he still knows there will be a time where soldiers will have to put their boots to the ground, he believes there needs to be a new way to fight new kinds of wars.
“We’ll continue to get rid of outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities that we need for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, counterterrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction and the ability to operate in environments where adversaries try to deny us access,” he continued.
Predictably GOP lawmakers were quick to criticize the Obama defense spending cutback plan. Rep. Allen West (R.-Fla.), a retired U.S. Army colonel and Iraq war veteran, has said that the President needs a crash course on how the military is run.
“The President is totally misguided and shows a level of incompetence that is absolutely unconscionable,” West told WMAL radio in Washington, D.C. “There are people all over the world who are enemies of the United States of America who are cheering right now.”