PUSHBACK BEGINS ON PENTAGON CUTS

CV67_JFK.JPGThat was quick. It's been just a few days since the Pentagon put out a plan for the most teeny-tiny of budget trims. (You can read the document for yourself here.) And already, Congress is making noise about reversing the cuts. Congress Daily has the scoop:

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., is expected to scrutinize any Navy proposal to reduce its aircraft carrier force to 11 and decommission the USS John F. Kennedy, according to a spokesman.Although Warner has not commented on specific details of the forthcoming fiscal 2006 defense budget, the chairman "remains convinced of the importance of carrier-based air power to America's efforts against terrorists who train in remote areas of the world," the spokesman said in a statement Monday. "It took five carriers to win in Afghanistan -- and he will keep that in mind as he reviews the department's budget," which is expected to be submitted to lawmakers Feb. 7.The spokesman said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called Warner last week to inform him of the broad outlines of this year's Pentagon budget, which is still being formulated."It is clear that the Department of Defense will not be exempt from the overall budget tightening that the administration intends to put forward this year," the spokesman said, adding that Warner "believes that it is fair for the department to play a role in the overall budgetary discipline this year, as long as the reductions are consistent with preserving our national security and military readiness in the war on terror."Media reports of the Kennedy's retirement last week immediately sparked opposition from Florida lawmakers. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., last week said the Pentagon's proposal is "short-sighted, short-term thinking, and long on wrong-headedness." Crenshaw said removing a carrier from commission "is not like flipping a switch. She can't come back on in a moment's notice should we need her desperately."Crenshaw said he sent a letter to President Bush expressing his concern about the proposed cut in the carrier fleet. "I'm going to do everything in my power to convince the president that our national security demands at least 12 carriers, if not more," he said.
THERE'S MORE: Also, it's interesting to note that Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman stand to take the biggest hits in the proposed Pentagon rollbacks. Boeing, which has been drifting from scandal to scandal in recent years, would remain relatively untouched, with a $5 billion shave off of its missile defense program.AND MORE: Over at the Red Herring, Jennifer Kho takes a look at the possibilities of these cuts sticking. She quotes a certain scruffy blog editor.AND MORE: Your choice -- read Defense Tech today, or the Washington Post tomorrow. On page A1, DC's big paper weighs in on the Defense Department's budget trim proposal.AND MORE: It's not just the Congressmen who are squirming. Air Force secretary James Roche is starting to talk about getting back the $10 billion cut from the F/A-22 jet program, too. Future funding for the plane "could be restored," Roche tells the Star-Telegram, "if we can make the case that requirements justify more than the number that this budget would yield."
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