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Obama asks Congress over 600 bln USD for Defense budget

(Xinhua)

09:07, February 14, 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Department on Monday said President Barack Obama sent to Congress earlier in the day a proposed defense budget of 613.9 billion U.S. dollars for fiscal year 2013 that is to begin in October. The Pentagon said the budget represents a shift in defense priorities and spending cuts.

According to the Pentagon, the request includes 525.4 billion in discretionary budget authority to fund base defense programs and 88.5 billion war fighting expenses, primarily in Afghanistan.

The budget request applies a strategic guidance released earlier this year to force structure and investment. The defense strategic guidance, "Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense," shifts U.S. defense priorities to the Asia Pacific region and promises to reduce planned spending by 259 billion over the next five years and 487 billion over 10 years.

"This budget plan represents a historic shift to the future, recognizing that we are at a strategic point after a decade of war, " said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The 88.5 billion in war fighting expenses is 26.6 billion below the fiscal 2012 enacted budget of 115.1 billion. The Pentagon said the proposed budget reflects the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq in December 2011, as well as savings due to operational progress in Afghanistan and the transition to Afghan responsibility for security.

The Defense budget request is made against a backdrop of drastic spending cuts across the board. The administration said those levels are consistent with the Budget Control Act, which mandates the federal budget cuts, but did not reflect sequesters that are set to take effect in 2013 if Congress cannot identify the cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act. The sequestration mechanism would cut over a trillion dollars in spending evenly between civilian and defense programs.

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