WASHINGTON – Top Pentagon officials are defending Defense Secretary Robert Gates' proposed multibillion-dollar cuts in military spending amid competing congressional demands for both deeper reductions and sparing weapons programs.
Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said the budget proposal strikes the right balance. Gates has called for cuts of $78 billion. The military budget would still be $553 billion in the next fiscal year, close to double what the military got in 2001. And the amount doesn't include funds for the war in Afghanistan and reduced operations in Iraq.
Lynn faced members of the House Armed Services Committee, including Republican Chairman Buck McKeon of California, who expressed concern about proposals that might jeopardize the military. Specifically, lawmakers are concerned with Gates' plan to cancel the Marine Corps' $12 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.