Obama-appointed Pentagon officials noted Monday during a press briefing that the spending cuts were ordered by a debt-reduction deal approved last August by Congress.
3. Naval Fleet Size. Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates will no doubt continue pointing out what appears to be a contradiction between the Obama administration's new national defense strategy and its 2013 budget plan. The strategy calls for an increased focus in the Asia-Pacific region, but cuts the size of the Navy's fleet.
"Despite the goal of pivoting to Asia, a theater where naval assets are decisive, the budget calls for retiring nine ships and removes sixteen more from the new construction plan," McKeon said. Navy officials say the service will do just fine with the number of ships Obama's budget pays for.
But GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney already has latched onto this issue, saying he would increase Obama's plan to build nine war ships per year to 15. While Romney has yet to clearly say how he would pay for that increase, it is clear the size of the Navy's fleet will be a regular issue on the stump.
Even some Democrat-leaning defense experts see a gamble in Obama's shift toward the Asia-Pacific region.
"The United States may seek to emphasize the Asia-Pacific, security threats elsewhere-particularly in the greater Middle East-may be more likely to require a military response over the next decade," said Travis Sharp of the Center for a New American Security, a think tank launched by two eventual Obama administration officials.