Obama and Pentagon officials Thursday outlined a focused, lean, presumably more agile defense posture to counter the effects of budgetary reductions totaling $489 billion over the next ten years.
The strategy includes an intensified focus on the Pacific in view of China’s expanding military and a greater emphasis on high-tech systems rather than sustaining large numbers of ground troops.
Obama said the Pentagon was transitioning from a decade of war and positioning itself to be more flexible in dealing with the known and unknown threats of the future.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would “closely, carefully and thoroughly review” the new initiative as it begins to unfold when the Pentagon presents its fiscal year 2013 budget request to Congress in February.
“The United States must continue to lead the world in order to ensure our economic prosperity and national security,” McCain was quoted in a statement released by his office. “I intend to ensure that our national defense strategy and budgets continue to strengthen America in its position of global leadership.”
The former Vietnam-era Navy pilot and prisoner of war called for greater efficiency to counter the need to cut defense costs.
“We must eliminate the shameless cost overruns that characterize too many of our defense programs,” the Arizona senator stressed. “We must cut congressional earmarks and pork-barrel spending on programs that the military does not request and does not need.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., was much harsher in his comments. He called the Obama plan a “lead from behind strategy for a left-behind America.”
“The president has packaged our retreat from the world in the guise of a new strategy to mask his divestment of our military and national defense,” McKeon said in a statement issued late Thursday.
“The strategy ensures American decline in exchange for more failed domestic programs,” the chairman insisted. “The president must understand that the world has always had, and will always have, a leader. As America steps back, someone else will step forward.”
McKeon acknowledged that reducing the nation’s spending deficit is an imperative.
“But the only federal spending the president appears willing to reduce is that for our military,” he noted. “We do not have to accept greater security risk to reduce the deficit.”