At $595.6 billion, President Obama’s proposed defense budget is just $113 million dollars less than expected per last year’s budget, about a 0.1 percent drop, and calls for cuts to personnel.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended the cuts last week as part of a plan to downsize the U.S. Army to a pre-World War II size, and called on Congress to make "politically difficult choices" in light of "the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges."
"For the first time in 13 years, we will be presenting a budget to the Congress of the United States that's not a war-footing budget," Hagel said.
Yet the request for cuts is being issued amid this week’s revival of Cold War tensions as the U.S. and Russia face off over Russia’s military action in the Ukraine.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has been highly critical of Obama’s administration, appeared on NBC's State of the Union to say the budget ignores the need to prepare for future military conflict.
"This budget by President Obama guts our defense," Graham said. "It is the smallest army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915 and the smallest air force in modern history."
Republican Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Buck Mckeon criticized Obama for his “compulsion to continually trade national security for financial responsibility, while getting neither.”
“You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can’t carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war,” a senior Pentagon official explained.
With much contention over defense spending, the reduction in personnel, and the increased role of technology in the military, second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, defends the DOD’s scaled-back military budget proposal, telling CNN, "we have to acknowledge the obvious."
"If we are going to reduce our debt for future generations," Durbin added, "we are going to have to cut spending on the defense and non-defense sides."