Pentagon chief: Smaller military means extra risk


President Barack Obama vowed Thursday the United States will maintain the best-equipped military in history despite deep and looming defense budget cuts, but Pentagon leaders acknowledged the changes present additional risk.
“Our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority,” Obama said in a rare appearance in the Pentagon briefing room.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and several top military brass lined up on the stage behind him, underscoring Pentagon support for cuts that Panetta and others said they know will be criticized as too drastic.
Obama said the emerging strategy overhaul is designed to contend with hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts and refocus the United States’ national security priorities after a decade dominated by the post.-Sept. 11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The strategy, devised through a comprehensive review by civilian and military leaders, centered on the military the country needs after the “long wars of the last decade are over,” Obama said.
Panetta said that smaller military budgets will mean some tradeoffs and that the U.S. will take on “some level of additional but acceptable risk.” But Panetta said that at this point in history, in a changing world, the Pentagon would have been forced to make a strategy shift anyway. He says the money crisis merely forced the government’s hand.

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