Rusty Dennen covers military affairs and the environment for The Free Lance-Star. .
Defense budget highlights
The nation’s armed forces will be smaller and will make do with less money, with more emphasis on Asia than Europe, while continuing some longtime programs, such as maintaining the Navy’s carrier fleet. Those and other priorities for the 2013 fiscal year were unveiled by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this afternoon.
For example, the budget request is $525 billion, with another $88.4 billion for overseas operations, mainly Afghanistan. That’s down from $531 billion and $115 billion, respectively, for this fiscal year. On personnel: the Army would drop from 562,000 soldiers to 490,000, with the Marine Corps shrinking from 202,000 to 182,000 over five years. Read more on Panetta’s announcement here. President Obama, who announced the defense strategy earlier this month, will ask Congress to use the Base Realignment and Closure process to identify savings that can be reinvested in higher priorities. Gov. Bob McDonnell weighed in, saying Virginia will “work closely with the Department of Defense to illustrate Virginia’s commitment to the military,” noting that the state has been a beneficiary of money and programs at installlations such as Fort Lee, Fort Belvoir and Marine Corps Base Quantico, from previous BRACs. Read McDonnell’s statement here.