US lawmakers debate Pentagon 2013 defence budget


The Pentagon's 2013 defence spending plan has been met with divided opinions, with several Senate Armed Services Committee lawmakers questioning US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's decision including a reduction of 100,000 troops and the proposed closure of additional US military bases.

The Pentagon has asked for $613bn in funding for the 2013 fiscal year, which includes $525.4bn in base spending and an additional $88.5bn for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, $31.8bn down from the amount enacted by Congress for this year. The 2012 figures were $530.6bn and $115.1bn respectively.

Commenting on the proposed budget, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs senator chairman, Joe Lieberman referred to the latest spending reductions required in the Budget Control Act as an "unacceptable risk" to US national security.

Reuters further quoted Lieberman as saying: "It's hard for me to conclude that there's any reason you would make such a recommendation other than the fact that you're required by law to do it."

Panetta, defending the proposed spending plan, admitted that the reductions will impact all 50 states but added that the budget was required to be reduced by almost a half a trillion dollars on bipartisan basis mandated by Congress.

Defence officials have laid out plans to meet the government-set target of reducing spending by $487bn over the next decade, including shrinking the size of Army and Marine Corps, cut backs on shipbuilding, and delaying the purchase of some fighter jets including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as the possible closure of military bases.

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey stressed that though the budget cuts were tough and deep, it will help the armed forces maintain their decisive edge and "help sustain America's global leadership".