March 31, 2015 11:20 UTC

In the News

Obama Sets Plan for 'Leaner' Military

With President Obama, from left: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and generals Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff; James Amos, Marine commandant; and Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman
With President Obama, from left: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and generals Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff; James Amos, Marine commandant; and Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story


Download this story as a PDF

Teachers: Download a version with English teaching activities for your classroom

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

This week, President Obama announced a new defense plan based on budget cuts in the coming years.

BARACK OBAMA: "Our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority."

Mr. Obama said details of the defense budget will be announced in the coming weeks. But he said Asia and the Middle East will get greater attention.

BARACK OBAMA: "As I made clear in Australia, we'll be strengthening our presence in the Asia-Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of this critical region. We're going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated time and again -- most recently in Libya -- that it's a force multiplier. We will stay vigilant, especially in the Middle East."

Related story from VOA News: China Expresses Concern Over US Defense Blueprint

Mr. Obama spoke Thursday in a rare presidential appearance in the press briefing room at the Pentagon -- the Defense Department headquarters. He said the nation is at a "moment of transition" after ten years of war.

BARACK OBAMA: "As we look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the end of long-term, nation-building with large military footprints, we will be able to ensure our security with smaller conventional ground forces. We’ll continue to get rid of outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities we need for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; counterterrorism; countering weapons of mass destruction; and the ability to operate in environments where adversaries try to deny us access."

Joining Mr. Obama were Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey.

The president ordered a strategic review last year to help guide decision-making by the Defense Department. American military policy is currently designed to be prepared to fight and win two wars at once. Secretary Panetta said that idea was a "residual of the Cold War." He said this, in some ways, restricted thinking about the future.

LEON PANETTA: "Our strategy review concluded that the United States must have the capability to fight several conflicts at the same time. We are not confronting obviously the threats of the past, we are confronting the threats of the twenty-first century, and that demands greater flexibility to shift and deploy forces to be able to fight and defeat any enemy anywhere."

The defense secretary said troop numbers would be cut. But he said the United States will protect and in some cases increase its investments in areas such as special operations and cyberspace.

For some defense experts, including Michael O'Hanlon at the Brookings Institution in Washington, the new strategic plan makes sense.

MICHAEL O'HANLON: "It's been in discussion for twenty years, and it's even more feasible now with Saddam Hussein gone from Iraq, and I think it's also responsive to the set of threats we face today where more of them are likely to be at sea or in the air -- from Iran, for example."

But former defense official Frank Gaffney, now president of the Center for Security Policy, says the new strategy has many problems.

FRANK GAFFNEY: "It may not be up to us how many wars we have to fight. Enemies who perceive us unable to deal with more than one problem at a time may decide to collaborate and work in a simultaneous fashion that will simply overtax us. And worse, the perception that we are so weak as to be unable to deal with that sort of danger invites it."

The defense budget for this year is about five hundred thirty billion dollars. Mr. Panetta said the new strategy aims to cut about four hundred eighty-seven billion dollars over ten years. However, the military may face more than five hundred billion dollars in additional cuts as Congress and the president seek to reduce the federal deficit.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

___

Contributing: Luis Ramirez and Dan Robinson

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Conversion of forests to agricultural use create starkly different habitats for small mammals that carry zoonotic disease such as plague, resulting in increased risk of plague transmission. (Photo Credit: Douglas McCauley)

    Audio Land-Use Changes May Increase Risk of Plague

    Efforts to increase food production in Africa may be increasing the risk of plague infection. A new report looks at efforts to clear land for farming in natural, undeveloped areas of Tanzania. The report links the development of croplands to an increase in the number of rats carrying the plague. More

  • Video Ceramic Guitar Proves Good for Rockin'

    Musicians have been using clay, or ceramic, wind and percussion instruments for a long time. But a rock guitarist in Spain is now attracting audiences with not only his music, but his unique ceramic guitar. Luis Martin says there is a unique quality of sound bouncing off ceramic material. More

  • A woman wakes up on downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row, March 7, 2013.

    Video Community Center Helps Women on Skid Row

    Many homeless people live in the “Skid Row” area of Los Angeles, California. These men and women have no permanent place to live. Skid Row is a place where many social service groups can be found. They work to help the homeless find work and a place to live. One such organization works with women. More

  • Iran - Nuclear

    Audio Difference Remains in Iran's Nuclear Talks

    How to dispose of Iran’s nuclear materials remains a barrier. Also, Arab-coalition airstrikes continue in Yemen; France's Socialist Party faces election losses; Nigerians vote for president; the U.S. and South Korea hold joint military exercises; and blogger killed in Bangladesh. More

  • Audio Chinese Development Bank Gains Members

    The Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, proposed by China, is aimed at financing infrastructure projects in Asian countries. The United States has voiced concerns about how the bank might affect organizations such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. But some U.S. allies have joined. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio New Treatment for AIDS Called a ‘Big Deal’

    Read on to learn words like mutate, neutralize and antiretroviral as you learn how researchers have found a way to trick HIV, the virus causing AIDS, into killing itself. The difficulty level might be high as this article describes what happens when a genetically modified cell becomes an HIV killer. More

  • Video Angelina Jolie Has Second Surgery to Prevent Cancer

    The 39-year-old actress published a piece in The New York Times about her decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to protect herself from cancer. She had a double mastectomy two years ago for the same reason. The latest surgery leaves the mother of six unable to have more children. More

  • Space Rocket to Launch Weather Satellite Into Deep Space

    Video Satellite Will Watch Sun Storms, Send Warnings to Earth

    Strong storms on the sun can cause problems for satellites, radio communications and even airplane travel. A satellite is now traveling 1.5 million kilometers to enter the sun’s orbit, just in time to observe the extreme weather on the sun at its most violent time the sun’s 11-year cycle. More

  • An employee plays the game Flappy Bird at a smartphone store in Hanoi, Feb. 10, 2014.

    Audio Too Much Gaming is a Pain in the Neck

    Smartphones and other electronic devices, or gadgets, are becoming more affordable. Children in India are using them more and more. Doctors say children who spend long hours playing video games are increasingly showing signs of physical deformities, meaning their bodies are not growing properly. More

  • Video Secrets of a Saddle-Maker

    People began riding horses thousands of years ago. Saddles for horseback riding were invented soon after. Today, many companies manufacture saddles. But it is rare to find someone who designs and makes these products by hand. American Keith Valley is one of the few. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs