The Tough Calls

The Pentagon will request $525 billion in its base budget for Fiscal 2013, along with an additional $88.4 billion to cover overseas contingency operations like the war in Afghanistan, said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday. This compares to the enacted totals of $531 billion and $115 billion, respectively, for Fiscal 2012, he noted. The reductions are a first step in cutting Pentagon spending by $259 billion over the next five years and by $487 billion over the next 10 years, as the 2011 Budget Control Act mandates. “I believe we have developed a complete package, aligned to achieve our strategic aims,” said Panetta of the budget plan, which the Obama Administration’s new defense strategy guided in preparation. Assembling the budget, with the programmatic cutbacks it reflects (see above), was a difficult undertaking, but an “important opportunity to shape the force we need for the future,” said Panetta. “The merits of our choices should be viewed in the context of an evolving security environment and a longer term plan for the joint force,” noted Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who briefed reporters with Panetta. (Pentagon budget priorities document and budget fact sheet) (Panetta-Dempsey transcript) (Carter-Winnefeld transcript)