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Monday, April 6, 2009

Gates announces budget cuts

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today laid out budget recommendations that he said aim to reshape the priorities of America's defense establishment.

"If approved, these recommendations will profoundly reform how this department does business," Gates told reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon.

Gates said his recommendations culminate experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lessons he's learned during his two-year tenure leading the Defense Department and a career in national security.

The defense secretary said he reached his decisions after consulting with President Barack Obama, and with military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon. The chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in accordance with his recommendations, Gates added.

"My decisions have been almost exclusively influenced by factors other than simply finding a way to balance the books or fit under the top line, as is normally the case with most budget exercises," he said. "Instead, these recommendations are the product of a holistic assessment
of capabilities, requirements, risks and needs for the purpose of shifting this department in a different strategic direction."

According to the Associated Press, Gates will end the F-22 fighter jet and presidential helicopter programs run by Lockheed Martin Corp.

Military analysts widely expected the radar-evading supersonic jet — considered an outdated weapon system designed for the Cold War — would not go beyond the 187 already planned. The planes cost $140 million each, the AP reported.

Maryland-based Lockheed, the nation’s largest defense contractor, has said almost 95,000 jobs could be at stake if the Pentagon didn’t buy more F-22s.

The new fleet of presidential helicopters — with a price tag of $11.2 billion that was nearly double the original budget— could also be cut in the 2010 budget.

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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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