Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday that Pentagon spending cuts, while necessary, could cost the U.S. military its ability to fight two wars simultaneously, and could delay or scuttle plans to modernize its nuclear defenses, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Upgrades to Reagan-era strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles are among the items considered vulnerable as Gates aims to meet President Barack Obama’s target of $400 billion in defense cuts over the next decade.
Gates said the working review group he’s set up to make recommendations will try to identify outdated mission capabilities and concentrate cuts on “niche” areas of the defense budget.
"What I am really working against here is what we did in the '70s and in the '90s, which was these across-the-board cuts that hollowed out the force," Gates said. "We have got to avoid that."
While Gates said no program is off the table, he listed several weapons programs he considers essential, including the F-35 fighter plane, the new Air Force refueling tanker, and a new generation of submarines equipped with ballistic missiles.
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