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US will have smaller and leaner force: Panetta


WASHINGTON (PTI): The US will have smaller and leaner armed forces, the Pentagon has said, noting that this will mean more risks; which are worth taking given the financial constraints that the country is facing right now.

Due to deep economic crisis that has engulfed the nation for the past few years; the Pentagon has been asked to massively cut its budget running into several hundred billion dollars; which has forced the Department of Defence to come out with a new strategic review document that would shape its defence policy for the years to come.

"The US joint force will be smaller, and it will be leaner. But its great strength will be that it will be more agile, more flexible, ready to deploy quickly, innovative and technologically advanced. That is the force for the future," Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters Friday.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that smaller forces, the details of which would be announced later, means increase in risks.

"We do accept some risks in this strategy as all strategies must. Because we will be somewhat smaller, these risks will be measured in time and in capacity. However, we should be honest. We could face even greater risks if we did not change from our current approach," he said.

"We are going to have a smaller and leaner force. What those numbers are will be part of the budget that will be presented by the President. And at that time, obviously, we'll reveal what those final decisions are as to the exact size," Panetta said in response to a question.

"But there's no question that, look, under any circumstances, we were looking at a drawdown as a result of the end of the war and, hopefully, what -- the end of the transition in Afghanistan.

"But budget constraints require that, in addition to that, we have to develop a smaller and leaner force, but one that has to be more agile, flexible, innovative and creative," he said.

But Panetta said the reduction in the force structure would be compensated by developing technologies and increasing investments in special operations forces.

"As we reduce the overall defence budget, we will protect, and in some cases increase, our investments in special operations forces, in new technologies like ISR and unmanned systems, in space and, in particular, in cyberspace capabilities, and also our capacity to quickly mobilise if necessary," he said.

"These investments will help the military retain and continue to refine and institutionalise the expertise and capabilities that have been gained at such great cost over the last decade," Panetta said.

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US  Armed Forces  Panetta  

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