The thinking here is obviously that life will be a bit easier in the White House if it looks like the defense sector is sort of voluntarily eliminating itself:

On defense, the administration’s list suggests it will target expensive weapons systems but does not specify which programs will be cut or how much money will be saved. White House officials said they are letting Defense Secretary Robert Gates take the lead on specific announcements Thursday.

The list did contend the Pentagon’s new weapons programs are “among the largest, most expensive, and technically difficult that the Department has ever tried to develop. Consequently, they carry a high risk of performance failure, cost increases and schedule delays.”

I wouldn’t challenge that last point, the system could use a massive overhaul, but it appears that the Obama administration may well move far beyond belt-tightening and into territory that has vast strategic significance:

A list of candidates for possible cutbacks drawn up by the Pentagon includes more Navy destroyers built by General Dynamics, fighter jets including Lockheed Martin and Boeing’s F-22 Raptors and carrier-based Super Hornets, a digital radio system for all the armed services and missile defense weaponry for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Gates has already singled out the F-22 Raptor fighters, which cost about 350 million dollars each, for potential cutbacks.

One potential bright spot in all of this is the potential that some of these funds will be redirected to increase both the number of uniformed personnel and their benefits:

The budget will also contain money to reduce the strain on the military – particularly the Army and Marine Corps. The budget calls for more soldiers and Marines. “And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned,” he said. When the dust settles will we be looking at a military whose role has been redefined by it’s limited capabilities?

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