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Panetta: Military strong despite budget

Jan. 13, 2012 at 12:16 PM   |   Comments

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FORT BLISS, Texas, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Economic troubles in the United States don't have to bleed over into national defense issues, the U.S. secretary of defense said in Texas.

The Defense Strategic Review, while short on specifics in advance of U.S. President Barack Obama's budget proposals in a few weeks, seeks to enact more than $400 billion in Pentagon budget cuts and reductions in force for the next decade.

Last week, Obama said the strategy includes strengthening the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, though it would also ensure troops have the equipment to succeed and are assisted once they return home.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said his department is committed to reducing the budgetary strains on the federal government.

"We don't have to choose between national security and fiscal security," he told soldiers at a military base in Texas. "We can do this in a way that will give us a strong defense for the future."

Echoing calls by Obama for a leaner military, the defense secretary said a new budget for the military would be enough to build a more agile fighting force.

"Our budget is, basically, designed to reinforce the new missions we are talking about and that agile, deployable and ready force that has to move quickly," he was quoted by the Defense Department as saying.

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