By Adam Levine
With today's budget for 2013 comes the latest sign of how the Obama administration wants to reshape the military going forward to deal both with the changing nature of threats to the U.S. and a scaled back military budget. The 2013 budget request will be the first truly detailed look at how the shaping of the military vision impacts the bottom line.
Of course, even adjusted for inflation, the reduction in defense budget growth will still add up a historically high budget and the biggest in the world.
War spending remains high, even though the U.S. military is out of Iraq. The military is expected to ask for $88.4 billion, down from $115 billion, for war spending. The reason, said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, that the "costs associated with that effort are pretty significant."
"As we try to deal with the supplying of our troops, this is not, you know, it's not as easy as Iraq in terms of our ability to provide the supplies and needs that our troops need," Panetta said in January. " To support them, to give them the best supplies, to give them the best weaponry that they need in order to meet this mission, is going to continue to require support and funding."
The Pentagon intends to bring down the force size with the Army and Marines cutting back by thousands. The global presence is shifting as well. The U.S. will reduce its presence in Europe. While Asia and the Middle East. How much of that will be reflected in the 2013 budget remains to be seen.
Even as some, like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, raise concerns about the growing threats in Latin America, the military devotes mere "budget dust" of spending in that area using very focused training and advising programs. That is not expected to change in the coming budget.
While some big projects will be cut or trimmed, some future weapons programs will remain, especially those considered necessary for dealing with countries like China, North Korea and Iran.
Special Operations is also expected to get more in their ever increasing budget as the use of commandos increases. The head of Special Operations forces is seeking greater autonomy in deployments, reports the New York Times on Monday.
Two of the more controversial aspects of the budget vision could be the realignment of health benefits and, of great concern to communities around the country and the congressional members who represent them, the potential to close and merge bases. Military pay, however, will increase as long as the war in Afghanistan continues, with the Pentagon expected to request pay hikes in this year's budget and 2014 to keep pace with the private sector. But those requests for increases will begin to level off in 2015.