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Inside Story Americas
The future of the US military
Does Obama's vision of a reduced but more agile fighting force reveal a new defence strategy or financial constraints?
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2012 13:41

Barack Obama, the US president, foresees a future US military that is a reduced but more agile force capable of fighting more than one conflict at a time.

"The latest announcement is produced in a completely strategic vacuum. We haven't had the strategic questions answered ... of what dictates the decisions, money or strategy. In this case, it's clearly not strategy. It means we want to have our cake and eat it."

- Sebastian Gorka, a military affairs expert

Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, shares the president's vision.

The new strategy was announced at a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday in response to a budget cut of at least $450bn over the next decade.

While it will take a few weeks before the details of the budget cuts are known, what is clear is that troop numbers will be reduced and the future focus will be on the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

Some of the cuts being considered include trimming the force from 570,000 to 520,000. Some expect an even bigger reduction.

Next generation weapons are also on the list, including delays in purchasing F-35 Joint "Strike Fighter" jets.

"We should not accept at face value the administration's effort to advertise this as some kind of a transformational change in defence policy or posture. We need more details and we should always go back to the question: What's the strategy?"

- Andrew Bacevich, a retired US army colonel and military analyst

The F-35 is one of the most expensive weapons programmes in history.

The Pentagon is also believed to be examining personnel costs, with possible cuts to future retirement benefits and fees for healthcare offered to military veterans.

So, what is behind the US defence budget cuts and new military strategy? And how will the country's traditional allies and perceived enemies react?

Inside Story Americas, with presenter Lisa Fletcher, discusses with guests: Lawrence Korb, a former US assistant secretary of defence and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; Andrew Bacevich, a retired US army colonel, military analyst, author and international relations professor; and Sebastian Gorka, a military affairs fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

"Obama's message was ... we are not going to go up as much as we used to, we are not going to do any more foolish things but we are still going to be involved in the world and have the capability to do everything possible to protect our interests. I would say that given the hand that Obama was dealt, and given the budget situations, he's probably making the best of what he has."

Lawrence Korb, a former US assistant secretary of defence

Source:
Al Jazeera
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