President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, released the results of the Pentagon’s strategic review of U.S. roles and missions worldwide during a Thursday morning press conference.
White House and Pentagon planners will use the strategy to fund the budget Obama will submit to Congress in February. The strategy will lead to more than $450 billion in defense cuts over the next 10 years.
The defense plan calls for reduction in Army and Marine Corps troop strength and new investments to bolster the Air Force and Navy. With the reductions in force, the Defense Department said that there will be increases in special operations and military technology in space and cyberspace.
While focusing on the United States’ ability to conduct multiple wars simultaneously and shifting importance from major grounds operations such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, the plan calls for an increased defense focus on Asia.
Panetta said the United States is at a major national defense turning point, as the Mideast wars are coming to an end while the U.S. economy is becoming an increasing national security concern.
“The Department of Defense will play its part in helping our Nation put its fiscal house in order,” he said.
Regardless of the fiscal shape of the country, though, Panetta said that a change in U.S. military strategy was inevitable to meet evolving national security concerns. The Defense Secretary said that the military will continue to carry out a wide range of missions, albeit with a smaller force size. A key part of the Defense Department’s reduction in force strategy involves putting in place a plan for quickly re-establishing large forces in the event of wide-scale military conflict.
A rebalanced global focus on the Asia-Pacific region and a broader part of the Mideast region is a key part of the Defense Department’s new plan. With a smaller force, Panetta said that the United States will rely on NATO allies to carry out many defense goals in the regions. Because, Dempsey said, strategic focus is changing to the Pacific region, the United States’ defense relationship with European allies will “evolve” over the course of the next decade.
Dempsey said that it is important to note that, despite the tough economic times facing the country, the strategy is not one of a military in decline but one of looking ahead to changing needs. A specific budget will be released later in the year.