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Report: Panetta’s Budget Plan Coming Later This Week

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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta plans to announce his approach to the impending $450 billion defense budget cuts over the next decade later this week, according to a New York Times report.

The plan, to be presented at a news conference this week, would put forth proposals to reduce the Pentagon’s budget by $260 billion over the next five years. The Times reported that Panetta will propose a U.S. military “large enough to fight and win one major conflict” and also conduct a handful of other smaller operations.

Areas being considered for cuts include salaries, retirement and health benefits. The Times reports Panetta is also looking at the nuclear arsenal, combat aircraft and warships.

The Times story said Panetta acknowledges the Pentagon’s personnel costs are “unsustainable,” and he believes retirement benefits may have to be scaled back to save what are considered to be crucial weapons systems. The Pentagon will also look at replacing the strategic nuclear forces, according to the Times.

The cuts required by last summer’s debt ceiling deal make up for 8 percent of the Pentagon’s base budget, according to the Times.

Panetta’s proposal will be sent to Congress for consideration and debate before final decisions made. The Times reported that future presidents would be able to propose an alternative spending plan to Congress.

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