President Obama makes a rare visit to the Pentagon. January 5, 2012
The president and some Republicans are at odds Friday over a new plan to slash nearly a half trillion dollars from the defense budget.
Republicans have characterized the plan, which would see the military take on more concentrated missions more in line with the one that killed Osama bin Laden than the gigantic wars of the past decade, as "leading from behind."
Rep. Buck McKeon, GOP chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN that "the president has packaged our retreat from the world in the guise of a new strategy to mask his divestment of our military and national defense.
"This strategy ensures American decline in exchange for more failed domestic programs."
President Obama unveiled the plan Thursday in a rare appearance in the Pentagon briefing room. The overhaul is designed to contend with hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts and refocus the United States' national security priorities after a decade dominated by the post.-Sept. 11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Obama says the military will be leaner but promises the world that the U.S. will maintain its "military superiority" with fighting forces ready for any threat.
The president says the strategy review centered on the military the country needs after the "long wars of the last decade are over."
The Obama administration is also shifting its focus somewhat to Asian security risks--namely China and a North Korea in flux after the death of long-time leader Kim Jong-il. The administration is not anticipating conflict in the region, but is attempting to play catch-up on strategy in the area after a decade of being bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"This region is growing in importance to the future of the United States economy and our national security," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. "This means, for instance, improving capabilities that maintain our military's technological edge and freedom of action."
At the same press conference, Panetta said future budgets will mean smaller U.S. armed forces and some greater risk. But he said at this point in history, in a changing world, the Pentagon would have been forced to make a strategy shift anyway. He says the money crisis merely forced the government to face the shift that's taking place now.
It wasn't clear what the impact would be on Colorado, home to about 27,000 soldiers at Fort Carson outside Colorado Springs.
Republican Rep. Mike Coffman faulted Obama for not offering more specifics. Coffman also said Obama should ask Europe and South Korea to take on more of the cost of their own defense.
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