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China Daily Website

US to strengthen military presence in Asia-Pacific

Updated: 2012-01-06 05:59
( Xinhua)

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Thursday vowed to strengthen US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region despite fiscal constraints.

The president made the remarks as he unveiled a revised national defense strategy designed for a new era of austerity.

"We'll be strengthening our presence in the Asia-Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region," he said during an appearance at the Pentagon along with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.

"We're going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO ... We're going to stay vigilant, especially in the Middle East," he added.

The Defense Strategic Review, ordered by the president, will reset defense priorities and guide more than $450 billion in defense budget cuts over the next decade. The Pentagon receives over $600 billion annually for baseline budget and war-fighting expenses.

The US military should be able to ensure national security with smaller conventional ground forces, Obama said. He vowed to get rid of "outdated Cold War-era systems" while investing in the capabilities needed for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as counterterrorism.

"Our military will be leaner, but ... agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats," he said.

Despite fiscal challenges, the defense spending will continue to grow, but at a slower pace, the president said.

"Over the past ten years, since 9/11, our defense budget grew at an extraordinary pace," he said. "Over the next ten years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this -- it will still grow."

The president again urged US lawmakers to do the deficit-reduction job in accordance with the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year.

A bipartisan congressional panel had failed to come up with a deficit-reduction plan, mandated by the legislation, which might trigger across-the-board spending cuts including defense spending.

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