Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized proposed military cuts outlined by a deficit- reduction commission as “math, not strategy,” defending his plan to reinvest savings in high-priority areas.
Deficit panel co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson called on Nov. 10 for $100 billion of defense cuts in 2015, with steps such as canceling a version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F- 35 jet. The 2015 defense budget is now projected to be about $666 billion.
“In terms of the specifics they came up with, that’s essentially math, not strategy,” Gates told a Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting in Washington today.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform would use its $100 billion in proposed defense cuts to lower the deficit. The panel needs agreement from 14 of its 18 members before a plan can be sent for an up-or-down vote in Congress.
Gates, anticipating a drive to reduce the growth in defense spending, is pressing the military services for cuts totaling $100 billion. The savings from overhead would be spent on more critical priorities.
“That means going in with a scalpel instead of a meat ax and figuring out how we change the way we do business,” Gates said today.
The defense chief, who met with Simpson and Bowles before they issued their recommendations, said he has had “incredible cooperation” from the military services. His goal is to save enough in other areas to maintain 3 percent growth after inflation in spending for the forces and weapons modernization.
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