WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A U.S. military responding to a changing set of priorities shouldn't be mistaken as a military in decline, an outgoing senior defense official said.
Michele Flournoy, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, was quoted by the Pentagon's press service as saying a U.S. military reconfiguring at the end of the Iraq war and near the end of the campaign in Afghanistan wasn't a declining force.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday his 2013 budget request seeks increases for special operations and reductions in the end strength of the U.S. Army. It also includes an additional $88.4 billion for overseas contingency operations, down from $115 billion this year, and seeks additional domestic base realignments and closures.
"We grew the force to accommodate these two large ground wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan)," Flournoy said. "It's only expected you would examine this drawdown over time."
In counter-terrorism operations, Flournoy said that while U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden last year, it wasn't an end to the al-Qaida threat.
"It's a project we're not finished with yet," she said.
Flournoy leaves office Friday after serving three years under U.S. President Barack Obama. She said she is resigning for personal reasons.