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US military aims to save USD 100 billion over 5 yrs

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WASHINGTON (AFP): The Pentagon has announced a major cost-cutting initiative, which it hopes will slash USD 100 billion from its tight operating costs over the next five years, a senior US defence official said.

But with the world's most advanced military waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defence Department said there was no intention of reducing force numbers in the US Army, Navy, or Air Force, and that the Pentagon's most expensive acquisition project ever -- the F-35 fighter jet -- would not be cut.

"Most of the savings are intended to be achieved by shaving overhead and tightening efficiency, with the billions saved there shifted to operational costs and force modernisation," Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn told reporters.

"The total over five years will be just over 100 billion dollars" shared across the department, Lynn said.

The military is being told to save seven billion dollars in fiscal year 2012, 11 billion in 2013, 18.9 billion in 2014, 28 billion in 2015, and USD 37 billion in fiscal year 2016, the Pentagon said.

In February, US President Barack Obama unveiled his defence budget proposal for fiscal year 2011, which includes USD 549 billion as the base budget plus USD 159 billion for "overseas contingency operations," mainly the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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