Obama Sharpens Pentagon Ax

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-- DoD photo

It was only three months ago that Defense Secretary Robert Gates rolled out $78 billion in Pentagon spending cuts he said the nation could safely make over the next five years. His boss, President Obama, just announced that Gates’ trims are only a down payment on the cuts the Defense Department needs to make.

Over the last two years, Secretary Bob Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again. We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but we’re going to have to conduct a fundamental review of America’s missions, capabilities and our role in a changing world.  I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it’s complete.

You sort of have to read between the lines — and check out an accompanying White House fact sheet — to figure out what the President is saying.

The fact sheet says:

Security spending: The President’s framework will go beyond the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget to achieve deeper reductions in security spending. It sets a goal of holding the growth in base security spending below inflation, while ensuring our capacity to meet our national security responsibilities, which would save $400 billion by 2023.

Bet Bob Gates is happy he’s made clear he’s leaving the Puzzle Palace before the year’s over.