Defense Secretary Robert Gates presented the first proposed defense budget of President Barack Obama’s new administration Monday and the proposals cut deep into traditional Pentagon weapons systems while proposing a major shift in stragegy in how the United States fights future wars.
But Obama’s first war will be with Congress where powerful members of the House and Senate see the cuts as threats to bread and butter jobs as well as votes back home.
The proposed overhaul will not be easy.
The United States would trim missile-defense spending, cancel multibillion-dollar weapons programs but buy more arms for fighting insurgents in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, under a 2010 budget plan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed on Monday an overhaul of the world’s most powerful military arsenal, including canceling a $13 billion presidential helicopter program that President Barack Obama has described as an example of Pentagon procurement "gone amok.
Gates would end production of Lockheed Martin’s F-22, the premier U.S. fighter jet, at the 187 now delivered or in the pipeline. But Lockheed gets a boost with accelerated funding of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
At a Pentagon briefing, Gates said the United States had the defenses it needed for now to protect from a long-range ballistic missile of the type that North Korea fired on Sunday.
"It actually would not have changed it at all," he said when asked whether a "successful" test-firing would have changed his views on spending. "We’re in a pretty good place in terms of — with respect to the rogue missile — rogue country missile threat," he said.
The defense proposals must still become part of Obama’s formal budget submission to Congress. Lawmakers have the final say on spending and were already gearing up to alter the plan.