May 13th, 2009
11:52 AM ET
9 years ago

Gates defends budget priorities

 U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is standing by new defense budget allocations.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is standing by new defense budget allocations.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates Wednesday defended his decision to shift budget funds to support weapons the U.S. military is currently using in Iraq and Afghanistan and away from research and weapons that may be used in future conflicts.

"We have to be prepared for the wars we are most likely to fight. Not just the wars we have traditionally been best suited to fight or threats we conjure up from potential adversaries who in the real world also have finite resources," he said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, where he appeared with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen.

The budget decisions were met with some skepticism from the outset. In his opening remarks, Rep. John McHugh, R-New York, questioned the decision to cut spending from some of the development programs.

"Can we really say that the threat of nuclear and missile proliferation is lower now than it was four years ago to warrant such significant reductions to missile defense? Are we so confident in our diplomatic efforts with Iran and North Korea that we can afford a nearly 90 percent cut in European Missile Defense and a 35 percent cut to our U.S. missile defenses in Alaska and California? Some of us, to say the least, are dubious," McHugh said.

Gates is calling for more than $1 billion in cuts in the missile defense budget.

In early April, the secretary announced the budget changes he was recommending to President Barack Obama in comments in Arlington, Virginia.

"Even as we begin to shift resources and institutional weight towards supporting the current wars and other potential irregular campaigns, the United States must still contend with the security challenges posed by the military forces of other countries – from those actively hostile to those at strategic crossroads," Gates said.

"Last year's National Defense Strategy concluded that although U.S. predominance in conventional warfare is not unchallenged, it is sustainable for the medium term given current trends."

The Obama administration has requested $533.8 billion for the Department of Defense in 2010.

Filed under: Robert Gates
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Candy West Virginia

    Amazing how the so called 'fiscal conservative' rethugs never mind spending trillions on defense but OPPOSE spending on the middle class.

    May 13, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Kurt C.

    Gates certainly has been heeled to his new master. Next thing you know, Gates will give his approval to the drastic cuts across the board Obama has been promising to help "balance the budget".

    Of course, as anyone knows, you could cut the military budget to zero and we'd still be running a 1.1-1.2 trillion deficit under Obama.

    May 13, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. Melissa

    Personally, I have no problem with that shift. Good for him. Good for us. Instead of waste money on stuff that may not be used, put it to good use supporting whats already being used.

    May 13, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I agree with the Secretary. We need a budget that suits the wars that we are fighting now. The money should be used on better armored humvees, body armor, predator drones, MENTAL HEALTH, etc. Our troops aren't in danger of missles. The only "potential" missle threat we face probably comes from N. Korea. Iran may want to produce a nuke, but it's not intended for us. I'm confident that this administration can make budget cuts in defense and still keep the country safe.

    May 13, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. Kelly

    That is our problem, we buy stuff just because we think that we are going to need it later instead of investing in things that we know we need today. If you have never worked for any of the armed forces or the Department of Defense, then you will never know how much money is wasted on things that they don't need.

    DoD has the biggest budget and that also mean that they have the biggest potential for waste.

    May 13, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Diane

    I think it would be a good idea to supply the men and women of our military with the tools they need RIGHT NOW not what they might need in some future conflict. The research budget may be cut but it's not gone completely. Work on now!

    May 13, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. Obama 2.0

    Gates is a smart man.

    May 13, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Daniel

    Good thinking

    May 13, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. mike

    another example of the Obama regime leaving us vulnerable. I just hope enough of us are around to say we told you so.

    Forget a missle defense, give us MORE WELFARE!!!

    May 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Randolph Carter

    What? No more money for developing laser-eyed killer robots? Bummer. Have a nice day!

    May 13, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. geen

    in as much as it is historically axiomatic that ANY weapon we create, we will eventually use–and subsequently, although all facts will negate whatever 'official' reason is given to use it on whatever poverty ridden or third world country which is absolutely no threat to us (hm..except maybe for their OIL reserves production..) its use will be spinned by war-loving bureaucrats in Washington...(an example of which is the A-Bomb and Hydrogen Bomb which the U. S. dropped on innocent civilians (couple hundred thousand of 'em) to hasten an end to a war with Japan..a war which, incidentally, was, for all intents an purposes, over with by the time we did that. Fact of the matter is: Among nations of the world, only ONE country ever dropped nuclear weapons on civilians..or, for that matter, in anger on another country–if you're from the U.S...raise yer hand! and, by having done so have essentially lost all credibility in anything pertaining to nuclear non-proliferation. It is the reason why countries like North Iran..laugh at these clowns in washington and the 'demands' they credibility. If we, in the U.S. have weapons, the world really should 'shake' to their very foundations 'cause history tells you that YOU could be next!

    May 13, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. The black spider

    I am glad the mentality of getting ready for Zombie wars is getting out of the pentagone.
    For the past 8 years Bush was Getting Ready from Aliens Out of Space Invasion while our brave soldiers was being killed in IRAK and AFGHANISTAN. It's time somebody step up. That is one of the change I voted for. Keep up the good work Gate/hillary/Obama team.

    May 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. The Death of America by Obama're one of them. You really don't have the best interest of this country at heart. You are now obama's boy. Too bad.

    May 13, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Proud DHS radical

    LOL and just how many Americans will be out of a job due to lost military contracts? Certain Dems are crying over this as are Republicans. And when will we heard how much of the Foreign Aid budget is getting slashed?

    May 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. Larry

    I truly think Gates knows what he is talking about

    He's closer to all this than all of the nay-sayers

    I'd rather our kids on the ground have GOOD vests on their bodies for protection NOW, than to leave them more vulnerable, because we are worrying about ... what might be

    Lets spend our money on what is ...

    May 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |