The Washington Post

Major changes for military in White House budget

U.S. troops listen to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Afghanistan. (Mark Wilson/AP). U.S. troops listen to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Afghanistan. (Mark Wilson/AP).

The Pentagon’s budget for 2015 represents a major turning point for the military, which is moving from more than a decade of massive growth to a significantly smaller force that will be more dependent on technology.

The Obama administration plans to spend $495.6 billion on defense in 2015 or about $113 billion less than had been expected in last year’s budget. The biggest savings will come from cuts to personnel, particularly in the Army, which will be gradually pared back to its smallest size in 74 years.

The Pentagon also plans to rein in health-care costs and cut some of its older weapons systems, such as the A-10 attack jet, the Kiowa Scout helicopter and the U2 surveillance plane, that may be less effective in an era of improved enemy air defenses.

Defense spending in 2015 will be about the same as in 2014 when automatic spending reductions, known as sequestration, led to deeper than expected cuts.

The budget does offer some good news for the Pentagon: The Obama administration would like to start growing defense spending again in 2016.

Greg Jaffe covers the White House for The Washington Post, where he has been since March 2009.

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