Gates says spending cuts mean smaller U.S. military

08:21, June 16, 2011      

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates attends a Senate Defense Subcommittee hearing on Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for the Defense Department at the Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, June 15, 2011. Gates said this would be his last appearance before Congressional committee before retiring at the end of June. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday spelt out military spending cuts for the Congress, saying reduced spending will result in a smaller force that goes to fewer places and does fewer things.

In his last scheduled appearance before Congress before his retirement, Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee that the country must acknowledge and accept additional risk in exchange for reduced military spending.

If force structure is reduced, he said, the consequences are that a smaller military -- no matter how superb -- "will be able to go fewer places and be able to do fewer things."

"Our military must remain strong and agile enough to face a diverse range of threats -- from nonstate actors attempting to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction and sophisticated missiles, to the more traditional threats of other states both building up their conventional forces and developing new capabilities that target our traditional strategies," he said.

Gates discussed areas that will be studied for savings. The first is the planned future reductions in the size of the ground forces, the second is the proposed reforms and savings to the TRICARE military health plan program for working-age retirees, and the third is the budget and the strategy choices required to meet the savings targets recently laid out by President Barack Obama.

The president called on Pentagon to find 400 billion dollars in savings. Gates earlier announced a plan to achieve 100 billion in savings over five years. "The goal was and is to sustain the U.S. military's size and strength over the long term by reinvesting efficiency savings in force structure and other key combat capabilities," Gates said.

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