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Critics say spending shifts hurt military

May 11, 2009 at 7:58 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Critics of White House proposals to shift more defense spending to counterinsurgency say it leaves the United States open to conventional threats.

The architect of the shift, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, returned to Washington from Afghanistan over the weekend and was preparing to defend his new spending priorities during likely contentious budget hearings this week, The New York Times reported.

While in Afghanistan, Gates predicted the United States will face more unconventional warfare in the future, rather than challenges from entire enemy nations, and so must focus more of its military resources on such equipment as medical evacuation helicopters, mine-resistant vehicles and drone aircraft rather than tanks and bombers, the newspaper said.

But critics, mostly U.S. Senate Republicans such as James Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Cornyn of Texas, say the spending shifts are dangerous for the country's ability to meet conventional threats.

Gates' spending plan "is taking us down a path that leads to a weaker military that is poorly equipped," Inhofe told the newspaper.

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