President Calls for Balanced Defense Spending Cuts

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2011 — Though he is com­mit­ted to cut­ting the Defense Depart­ment bud­get as part of the over­all reduc­tion in the fed­er­al deficit, and strate­gic needs must dri­ve the effort, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma said yes­ter­day in his first Twit­ter town hall meet­ing.

Oba­ma said he con­duct­ed the meet­ing to find out what the pub­lic thinks about how to reduce the fed­er­al deficit, what costs should be cut and which invest­ments should be kept. Respond­ing to sug­ges­tions for cuts in the defense bud­get, the pres­i­dent said that is not an easy task.

“We can’t sim­ply lop off 25 per­cent off the defense bud­get overnight,” he said. “We have to think about all the oblig­a­tions we have to our troops who are in the field, and mak­ing sure they’re prop­er­ly equipped and safe.” The need to replace out­dat­ed mil­i­tary equip­ment is anoth­er bud­get con­sid­er­a­tion, the pres­i­dent added.

“We’ve end­ed the war in Iraq, our com­bat mis­sion there, and all our troops are slat­ed to be out by the end of this year,” Oba­ma said. And as Afghan forces take more respon­si­bil­i­ty for their country’s secu­ri­ty, he added, U.S. forces will draw down there as well. But draw­ing down forces and begin­ning a new phase in Afghanistan must be done “fair­ly grad­u­al­ly,” he said.

Oba­ma said that while deci­sions to cut defense spend­ing will be tough, a reduc­tion requires a bal­anced approach, as with any gov­ern­ment pro­gram, to shrink the over­all fed­er­al bud­get.

“Those who say that we can’t cut mil­i­tary at all haven’t spent a lot of time look­ing at mil­i­tary bud­gets,” he added.

How­ev­er, the pres­i­dent said, the reduc­tions must take place with the nation’s secu­ri­ty in mind.

“One of the things that we have to do is make sure that we do it in a thought­ful way that’s guid­ed by our secu­ri­ty and our strate­gic needs,” he said. “And I think we can accom­plish that.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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