Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said Friday the Pentagon budget, trimmed by White House and congressional negotiators, will mean more cuts in troop strength and weapons.
Cheney also promised to ask Congress to shut down more military bases than the 91 bases now set to be closed or cut back. "We've got no choice but to close bases," Cheney said in an interview.The budget agreement announced Friday sets defense outlays at $299.2 billion for the 1990 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The administration says that after inflation is factored in, the new defense budget is actually lower than this year's $298 billion.
Cheney originally had expected to have a budget the same size as last year plus an increase for inflation. Now he will have to cut even more than planned.
"I haven't found any fat yet in the budget. If I could find some I'd cut it," Cheney said.
"You are talking about force structure, important systems - weapons systems - acquisition rates, readiness levels," Cheney told five reporters in his Pentagon suite.
He hopes to protect U.S. troop levels abroad. "This is not the time for us to be talking about troop reduction of forces overseas," he said.
Adm. William Crowe, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate panel Friday, "We may have to ease toward a smaller conventional force, but this will occur in a gradual fashion."
The former congressman from Wyoming said he expects further battles with Congress over the closure or shrinkage of 91 military bases chosen by an independent commission.
"I'm certain in the months ahead I'll be urging Congress to close more bases," he said.