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Panetta faces US defense budget battle

07-02-2011 08:45 BJT

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Newly appointed US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, has promised to keep the military strong while making tough choices on defense spending cuts.

Panetta's appointment at the Pentagon comes at a time of transition in the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as intense debate over Washington's role in Libya.

The Pentagon is not far from CIA headquarters, where the 73-year-old headed the spy agency for two years. The two jobs, however, are worlds apart.

In size, scope and spending power, the Defense Department dwarfs the CIA.

Although Panetta is well versed in national security issues, he must fight financial obstacles in the Iraq and Afghan wars, while battling defense bureaucracy and conflicts with Congress.

After operating behind a wall of secrecy at the CIA, Panetta faces brighter lights of public scrutiny at the Pentagon.

US President Barack Obama has called on the Defense Department to come up with 400 billion dollars in reductions over 12 years.

About a third of the US forces in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by next summer, a faster timetable than US military commanders had recommended.

Panetta also must oversee a total withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq by the end of the year, even as rising violence raises questions about that country's future.

Further complicating the picture for Panetta is the fact that Washington is fast approaching the 2012 presidential election season, as well as the expectation that he may serve only through Obama's current term.



Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: CNTV.CN

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