Making the Unthinkable a Reality

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta intends to do everything in his power to protect, and possibly even increase, funding for cyber offense and defense, remotely piloted aircraft, and special operations forces. However, that likely means other critical areas, including medical and retirement benefits, will take a hit, reported the New York Times. Panetta told the paper in an interview that another round of base closings may be unavoidable, even though many members of Congress are likely to object. “There will be some huge political challenges,” he said. “When you reduce defense spending, there’s likely to be base closures, possible reduction in air wings.” The nuclear arsenal also is likely to be reduced as White House and Pentagon officials struggle to determine how many warheads really are necessary. And the number of US forces in Europe may get cut to “free up money” for forces in Asia; however, the US will help its NATO allies improve their militaries to make up for any withdrawal of forces, reported the paper. Panetta also said he is “considering cutting the purchase of the F-35” strike fighter, although there has been no final decision yet. He also supports the creation of a binding commission charged with reviewing military retirement pay for future enlistees. (See also Senate Republicans Looking for Specific Effects of Sequestration from the Daily Report archives)