Pentagon seeks smaller military budget, at $660 billion

08:49, February 15, 2011      

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US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that the Pentagon can live with a smaller budget this year than the Obama administration has requested, but the total — excluding war costs — cannot be less than $540 billion.

That is about $9 billion less than the White House has requested from the Congress.

The two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would need somewhat $120 billion, the Pentagon said.

Gates said that Congress' failure to pass a 2011 budget — five months into the fiscal year — is forcing the Pentagon to stick to last year's lower spending level. Those limits could turn into a crisis if they are not fixed soon, he said.

Laying out the 2012 defense budget, Gates said he is seeking enough money to maintain up to 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, despite President Barack Obama's insistence that it will begin to wind down operation and withdraw forces from coming July.

The 2012 budget request includes about $118 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 2012 budget also provides $12.8 billion to train and equip the Afghan security forces.

U.S officials have said they need more than the current goal of 300,000 army and police. There are currently about 270,000 Afghan security forces.

The U.S. and Nato have pressed other nations to provide training.
Gates warned that he will pursue all potential legal moves to eliminate funding for the alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Cutting the extra engine, he said, will save $3 billion.

Peoples Daily Online / Agencies

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