WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- As Congress looks at ways to cut Pentagon spending, the military's budget for cancer research is coming under close scrutiny, officials say.
The Defense Department has received more than $3.6 billion for cancer research during the last two decades, even though the research is outside the Pentagon's traditional mission of battlefield medicine and research, The Washington Post reported Monday
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on emerging threats, questioned whether aspects of the Defense Department's medical research on cancer should remain a priority at a time of tightened budgets.
A large portion of the research has a "tenuous connection to the warfighter or even our service people," he noted, and that funding had been "foisted upon the department by Congress."
Marilyn Freeman, the Army's deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, responded by saying that though cancer research "may not have been entirely for the military, it has had a great benefit, as have many of those kinds of efforts."
However, she said, "we're going to have to look at that hard," when it comes to priorities for the fiscal 2012 budget.