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The US is planning to cut its defence expenditure by $78bn in a move that includes shrinking army and marine troop levels and abandoning plans for the acquisition of new weapons technology.

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said that "extreme fiscal duress" required him to call for the cuts, which are subject to the approval of the US congress.

The move reverses the significant growth in military spending that followed the 9/11 attacks.

Does this decision reflect a political shift in Washington? And what about the many global security threats the US says it is facing?

Inside Story, with presenter James Bays, discusses with Mark Kimmitt, the assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs under George W. Bush, Richard Murphy, the former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, and Shuja Nawaz, the director of the South Asia Centre at the Atlantic Council, a bipartisan think tank in the US.

This episode of Inside Story aired on Saturday, January 8, 2011.

Source: Al Jazeera