US Secretary of Defense Robert M Gates has announced a series of efficiencies decisions, designed to save the Department of Defense more than $150bn over the next five years.

The cost-cutting measures have been directed to find $100bn in savings and will be used by the army, navy, marine corps and air force to better focus on higher priority programmes that strengthen warfighting capabilities.

The savings have been achieved primarily by reducing overhead costs, improving business practices and removing excess or troubled programmes.

The Department of the Army would use its efficiencies savings to provide improved suicide prevention and to modernise the Abrams tanks fleet, Bradley fighting vehicles and Stryker wheeled vehicles.

The army will also focus on procuring advanced Grey Eagle UAVs, MC-12 reconnaissance aircraft to support ground forces, and begin development of a new vertical unmanned air system.

Of the $100bn, approximately $28bn will also be used over the next five years by the forces to meet expected operating expenses such as fuel, maintenance, healthcare and training costs.