Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined forces during an hour-long panel discussion at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., Aug. 16, to discuss a host of national security issues and the projected budget cuts both agencies face as a result of the new debt-ceiling deal. Clinton argued the US has to have a “responsible conversation” about the budget, keeping in mind potential future fights. She cited China’s growing military strength as an example. “We are asserting our presence in the Pacific. We are a Pacific power. That means all elements of our national security team need to be present and we can’t be abruptly pulling back or pulling out when we know we face some long-term challenges about how we are going to cope with what the rise of China means,” Clinton said during the televised discussion in front of hundreds of students from the National War College, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and members of Congress. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) recently put forth a plan to realign Pacific forces calling the Defense Department’s current plan unrealistic.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.