Pentagon Must Tighten Belt Says Defense Secretary

May 10, 2010 Updated: May 10, 2010

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon must make serious cuts in spending. He spoke at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kan.

Gates said department spending is swelling to an unsustainable level. He cited expensive weapons systems, health care costs, and staff (especially managerial salaries) as the causes. He has ordered departmental heads to prepare budgets showing 2 to 3 percent savings, which would mean reducing the Pentagon budget by about $10 billion.

"These savings must stem from root-and-branch changes that can be sustained and added to over time," he said. President Eisenhower in the early 1960s cautioned the nation of the rise of what he named the military-industrial complex. Gates said the necessary cuts will make powerful people angry.

Both politicians and military contractors have opposed cuts Gates has tried to make. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 America has doubled its spending on defense.

Gates said, "Given America's difficult economic circumstances and perilous fiscal condition, military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher, scrutiny."