Nightly News   |  January 05, 2012

Obama reveals plan to cut Pentagon budget

President Obama unveiled his new military strategy aimed at cutting the Pentagon's budget. A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan sapped the military and sent Pentagon spending soaring, up 71 percent. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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>>> if president obama gets his way along with the senior leadership at the pentagon , the u.s. military is in for a big change. it will affect all the american suns and daughters who raised their hands to fight our wars. it will affect the wars this country chooses to fight perhaps. it's a design for a new military in the era after the dual wars we have been fighting. it will be the biggest change in decades. we start our reporting with jim miklaszewski on duty tonight at the pentagon . jim, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. for the first time since 911, the pentagon is being forced to tighten its belt. to do it will take wholesale changes in the way the military does business. president obama came to the pentagon today as commander in chief to unveil his new strategy aimed at cutting the budget. the president acknowledged the new military will be leaner but insisted no less meaner.

>> the united states is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of threats.

>> reporter: a decade of war in iraq and afghanistan sapped the military and sent pentagon spending soaring up 71% in the last ten years. a bill leon panetta says the nation can no longer afford.

>> all of this comes at a time when america faces a serious deficit and debt problem here at home, a problem which is itself a national security risk that is squeezing both the defense and domestic budgets.

>> reporter: to cut the military's budget will take a major shift in strategy. u.s. forces wills now focus on deterring a growing threat from china in the asia- pacific region , conduct smaller counter insurgency missions elsewhere, and no longer attempt to fight two major ground wars at the same time.

>> i'm uneasy about recognizing up front that we are not going to retain that capability. it tells your adversaries, look, they're tied up in a place like korea. it's time for mischief in the persian gulf .

>> reporter: there will also be sacrifice. the pentagon will slash its spending by $489 billion over the next ten year. the army and marines will cut more than 100,000 service members. major weps programs will be cut back or eliminated. for the first time in nearly 20 years active duty military and retirees will be forced to pay more for health care benefits. reaction from capitol hill was swift. a release from the house republican-controlled houseded services committee says this is not a strategy for superiority. it is a menu for mediocrity. and so, brian, the pentagon budget balttles begin.

>> thanks.