The Pentagon will give Congress a sneak peek at its much-anticipated 2013 spending plan—the first to enact a $350 billion, decade-long cut—next week, which will allow lawmakers to cry foul over proposed cuts to their favorite weapon programs and bases.
A U.S. official confirmed the Pentagon will provide some details to reporters next Thursday, but not before they huddle with key defense-minded lawmakers and senior aides. "The focus will be on previewing some of the budget decisions and how they are tied to the strategic guidance that was recently issued," the defense official told U.S. News & World Report. ."
This is not the first time in recent years the Pentagon has given Capitol Hill an early glimpse of proposals to cut the budget—in 2009, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates did the same thing when he wanted to kill or truncate nearly 50 weapon systems. [See a collection of political cartoons on Afghanistan.]
The defense business sector, Wall Street and Capitol Hill have been clamoring for months for details about which troops, weapon programs and bases might be terminated or closed as the Defense Department begins chopping $350 billion over a decade. Defense officials claim that cut, mandated by the August debt-reduction deal, will actually mean a $480 billion cut when all is said and done.
The budget proposal preview will come several weeks after President Barack Obama and Pentagon leaders unveiled a new national defense plan that will mean a "leaner" and "more agile" U.S. force, signalling Army and Marine Corps troop cuts. The new plan also states the military will shed parts of the force tailored over the last decade for the protracted stability operations that dominated the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, which analysts say could be a blow to manufacturers of large combat trucks and mine-resistant vehicles.
The budget blueprint is expected to reflect the Obama defense strategy's shift toward the Asia-Pacific region by funneling dollars to the Navy and Air Force while cutting the Army's slice of the Pentagon budget pie. That should be good news for aircraft carrier and submarine manufacturers, according to analysts.
The much-anticipated roll out date was first reported by Defense News.