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Obama military strategy: Is it bipartisan enough?

President Obama needed a security strategy before asking for big budget cuts in defense. His plan from the Pentagon calls for America to take more risks, create a lean force, and focus on Asia. But he'll need buy-in from Congress to make it stick.


U.S. Navy deck crew members work beside the China's national flag on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in Hong Kong Dec. 27, 2011. The carrier arrived in Hong Kong for a three-day routine port call.

AP Photo/Kin Cheung

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After three years in office, President Obama has settled on a new strategy for national security to justify big cuts in military spending. In short, the commander in chief is asking Americans to accept greater risks from potential foes and to use the budget savings from a leaner force to strengthen the home economy.

Under his proposals, future wars – especially on land – may take more time to ramp up and to finish. The United States will need to rely more on other countries. And the Navy and Air Force will be beefed up in Asia and the Middle East to back up America’s compelling interests in those regions.

That’s the big picture, at least. The actual details to achieve it will come in late January when Mr. Obama proposes a budget to Congress, which will make the final decision.

Fortunately, the administration has kept key lawmakers in the loop as the Pentagon drew up the strategy. For more than a century, a once-isolationist America has struggled to define its role in the world with each new challenge, such as 9/11. A national consensus on security is essential to budget decisions as big and consequential as this one.


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