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Obama: US war effort to be cut

By Rupert Cornwell

The mighty US military machine that has secured the country's status as the world's only superpower for so long will have to be drastically reduced, Barack Obama warned yesterday.

The warning came as he set out a radical, but more modest, new set of priorities for the Pentagon over the next decade.

After the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Obama's blueprint for the military's future acknowledged that America will no longer have the resources to conduct two such major operations simultaneously.

Instead, the US military will lose up to half a million troops and will focus on countering terrorism and meeting the new challenges of an emergent Asia dominated by China.

America, the President said, was "turning the page on a decade of war" and now faced "a moment of transition".

The country's armed forces would in future be leaner but, Mr Obama pointedly warned both friends and foes, sufficient to preserve US military superiority over any rival - "agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats".

Mr Obama underlined the priorities would be maintaining a robust nuclear deterrent, confronting terrorism and protecting the US homeland, and deterring and defeating any potential adversary. To these ends, the US will also boost its cyberwarfare and missile defence capabilities.

The specifics of the new proposals, set out in the 'Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense' document, have yet to be fleshed out.

At $662bn, Pentagon spending for 2013 will exceed the next 10 largest national defence budgets on the planet combined. But, that sum is $27bn less than what President Obama wanted, and $43bn less than the 2012 budget.

FACTFILE

The "Obama Doctrine" reflects three basic realities. First, the long post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are finally drawing to a close. Second, America's national interest is increasingly bound up with Asia, the world's economic powerhouse. Third, are the domestic financial facts of life, at a moment when government spending is under pressure.

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