Pentagon Budget – Ripples of Political Gamesmenship

Editor’s Note – At a time when America faces what seems to be a certain conflict with Iran and her allies, along with many other theaters of threat, the Department of Defense budget cuts, and the reason there are to be such deep cuts is coming home to roost. When America, and her politicians chose entitlement avoidance over security, we all lose.

There is deep resentment in many corners, but political expediency rules the day. A common analogy where a stone is thrown in a body of water, sending ripples to all shores, applies here. What you voted for last year, is sending not mere ripples, but shock waves across every shore because our economic woes and debt issues were not properly addressed. Politics reared its ugly head, to the point that we have not even had the Senate pass a budget in over 1,000 days.

The shear lunacy of this whole debacle is going to sink us, if it has not already. How do you feel about hope and change now? Here’s the change we bet you did not bargain for.

Meanwhile the Secretary of Defense begins in a political fashion to describe the new budget as he addressed Congress:

Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the top U.S. military leader on Tuesday defended the Pentagon’s slimmed-down, $614 billion budget, telling lawmakers it is time to show Congress is serious about reducing the deficit.

[Quick note to Mr. Panetta: You were appointed to run our Department of Defense, not to tell Congress how do its job, that is our duty, sir! Take your White House talking points and liberal agenda and place them squarely where the sun does not shine!]

Additionally, Panetta urges Congress not to “double” the pain:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Congress today to abandon automatic defense budget cuts of about $500 billion over 10 years that he said would cause “severe damage” to the military.

The politics of it all!

But what we do not see readily, are the political ploys and the many impact points, some of which are unconscionable, and cloaked in rhetoric made for the campaign trail, not the deep and abiding onus to protect this nation. To whit, Carl Levin, a Democrat and John McCain, a Republican found room to question Panetta, Dempsey and the administration’s plans:

The testimony immediately met resistance from members of the committee. Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat and the panel’s chairman, insisted that the military look to closing bases in Europe and overseas before targeting installations in the United States.

Sen. John McCain, the committee’s top Republican and Obama’s presidential foe in 2008, expressed reservations with the budget and complained that it “continues the administration’s habit of putting short-term political considerations over our long-term national security interests.”

Then there is the question about our nuclear preparedness and the ability of the world as whole to identify and secure nuclear stockpiles:

Our armaments:

The Obama administration is weighing options for sharp new cuts to the U.S. nuclear force, including a reduction of up to 80 percent in the number of deployed weapons…

Even the most modest option now under consideration would be an historic and politically bold disarmament step in a presidential election year, although the plan is in line with President Barack Obama’s 2009 pledge to pursue the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The world’s stockpiles:

The Obama administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request takes a major step backwards in the fight to prevent nuclear terrorism by slashing key nuclear security budgets in all the major agencies involved in the effort, the Fissile Materials Working Group, a nonpartisan group of nuclear security experts said today.  The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) took the biggest cut at $293 million, while the State Department received an overall 7% reduction and a key Department of Defense effort a $21 million reduction.  These cuts are being proposed on the eve of the March Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, where over 50 world leaders will come together to consider how to better secure all vulnerable nuclear materials and prevent nuclear terrorism.

This does not equate to a secure America, no matter how the White House, Panetta, and the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s, General Martin Dempsey spin their plans and reasoning. We must question why these cuts and moves are in America’s best interests. Senators, as well as anyone who had a hand in voting to cut the Pentagon so deeply while avoiding the poltical ‘third rail’, are deeply concerned:

The Pentagon’s new, slimmed-down budget is an agent of unity, bringing together Republicans and Democrats alike. Senators of every political stripe on the Armed Services Committee hate the thing — or don’t want to defend it. The only thing they may hate more: the next round of Pentagon cuts, due to take effect in less than 11 months.

You should be concerned as well, because its not just our security that is in jeopardy, it also shows just how deeply broken and politicized our government has become. In this major election year, perhaps the most important in anyone’s lifetime still breathing today, it is now that you must become engaged. You must educate yourself and teach your neighbor what you have learned. If we do not, and we allow the machines of power to remain intact, and the status quo of the ‘beltway’ is allowed to continue, even they will rue the day!

Then there are the things you will not hear about. Things that will get funded, and maybe, they are needed, but at what cost when we cut so much else. Black budget lines continue to make it by the watchful eye, and the following describes this facet:

$80 Billion Puzzle: The Part Of The Pentagon’s Budget You Won’t See

by Loren Thompson

Forbes

This is the week that the defense department unveils its fiscal 2013 budget request, which Pentagon policymakers have been heralding as a turning point in military spending priorities.  So if you care to listen, you will be able to hear a lot about why weapons outlays are being cut, military healthcare costs are increasing, and land-based forces are losing money to sea-based forces.

However, there are a few items about which you won’t hear anything.

You won’t hear a word about the huge eavesdropping satellites the military has been launching, the biggest satellites ever built.  You won’t hear about the intelligence missions that U.S. submarines are silently conducting in the Eastern Mediterranean and Yellow Sea.  You won’t hear about the sprawling complex near Baltimore that monitors billions of emails every day.  And you won’t hear about the program awarded last year to develop new photo-reconnaissance satellites that can see what Chinese users are looking at on their laptops from over a hundred miles away.

All of these efforts and hundreds more are part of the government’s vast intelligence-gathering enterprise, which is funded to the tune of $80 billion annually.  Although the intelligence community consists of 17 different agencies and organizations scattered across the government, about 85 percent of the funding is hidden in defense department accounts. That’s because most of the technology and personnel costs associated with the intelligence enterprise are incurred by defense agencies.

The activities of the intelligence community are organized under two overarching programs.  The $55 billion National Intelligence Program collects and analyzes strategic information — meaning information relevant to the security of the entire nation — through four defense agencies, intelligence units in other cabinet departments, and the independent Central Intelligence Agency.  The $27 billion Military Intelligence Program collects tactical information through the intelligence commands and field units of the military services relevant to their immediate warfighting needs.

Congress established a Director of National Intelligence in 2004 to oversee the intelligence community and break down the barriers between agencies to sharing information.  However, with so much of the activity carried out by defense agencies and the military services, it is largely a Pentagon show — which helps explain why the current Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is a former Air Force general who previously served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

Director Clapper told a conference in October that the intelligence community is headed for big spending cuts in the years ahead, but you can forget about trying to find out where the budget axe is falling because the government refuses to disclose details about how funding is allocated.  We know that there are about 200,000 personnel working in the intelligence community — about a quarter of them contractors — and that they are almost evenly divided between the national and service-specific programs.  What we don’t know with any precision is what occupants of the cars filling 18,000 parking spaces at the National Security Agency (NSA) outside Baltimore are doing on any given day.

NSA, one of the four byzantine defense agencies engaged in collecting national intelligence, is emblematic of just how big the secret part of the defense budget really is.  The agency’s mission is to intercept the electronic transmissions of other nations and break codes while protecting U.S. networks from foreign intruders, a job that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.  NSA is said to operate more supercomputers than any other organization in the world, and rumors are constantly surfacing about how extensively it monitors global telecom traffic.  It doesn’t do that just by tapping into fiber-optic lines, it also listens in from overhead using satellites with antennas as big as football fields — which is one reason it’s “Mentor” series of eavesdropping satellites are the biggest ever built.

The satellites NSA relies on are developed and launched by another defense agency called the National Reconnaissance Office which overseas so-called “black” space programs.  It is that agency which recently awarded a multi-billion-dollar contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a new generation of imaging reconnaissance satellites following the meltdown of a Clinton-era effort that failed to coalesce under a rival contractor.  The award restored Lockheed to the same kind of long-running franchise in photo-reconnaissance satellites that Northrop Grumman enjoys in eavesdropping satellites.  Other companies that seem to be key players in black space includeRaytheon, which fashions ground networks for moving classified data, and Exelis (formerly ITT Defense).

But you have to search far and wide to learn such things, because the government seldom discusses its overhead intelligence assets, and the companies won’t even admit they’re in the business.  The same is true for a host of other airborne, ground-based, and undersea intelligence systems.  For instance, the nation’s fleet of fifty-odd attack submarines spend most of their time on-station in places like the Persian Gulf monitoring the electronic transmissions of other nations, aided by the fact that coastal climate conditions bend the signals of what would normally be line-of-sight communications.  Many of those missions are requested by “national command authorities” such as the White House.

So are submarine intelligence missions part of the National Intelligence Program or the Military Intelligence Program?  Darned if I know.  The Pentagon’s budget is so opaque on such matters that you can’t even figure out where a lot of the money is located.  It seems to be distributed in roughly equal thirds across R&D, procurement and readiness accounts — although much of the personnel spending is probably also for military intelligence specialists.  As Aviation Week & Space Technology expert Bill Sweetman has pointed out, add it all up and the secret part of the Pentagon’s budget is similar in size to the entire defense budget of other big military powers.

However, don’t expect to hear about any of that this week from the Pentagon.  This may be budget week for the rest of the federal government, but for the intelligence community, it’s just another week of hiding in the shadows.

Obama, effort not to repeat failures on military reductions – Fails

By SUA Staff

Last week, Barack Obama delivered a confirmed message from the Pentagon Situation Room speaking to the deep reduction of the Defense Department operating budget over the next ten years. Obama said the Department of Defense would seek smart and strategic spending priorities from this point forward. This comes from the default trigger as the Super Committee failed to come to terms with reduced government spending.

The defense cuts are much larger than the White House and Leon Panetta in fact are revealing. The new military strategy includes $487 billion in cuts over the next decade. An additional $500 billion in cuts could be coming if Congress follows through on plans for deeper reductions. The United States military is aging rapidly and needs funding to keep pace with future technology threats such as Russia, China, and Iran.

Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta supported Obama’s decision to reduce spending which includes drastic reductions in ground troops and an increase in the number of special forces working in cooperation with a militarized CIA force. At first appearance, this possibly reveals that future wars will be fought with nastier weapons, in the cyber world, and in space with satellites being at the core of technology.

The Iranian nuclear threat, partnered with Syria, Russia, and Venezuela, all demonstrated by the IAEA report published late last year is the top priority because it directly threatens our interests, in a way that would be the most likely to need US military intervention. What gets very little attention however, is the fact that a large amount of nuclear material/inventory is owned by countries that have not taken thorough precautions and applied all measures possible to keep them safe from would be terrorists.

There are additional challenges that must be included in the war-gaming dialogue and may be included, but with the exit of troops in Iraq and the drawdown of those in Afghanistan prior to the schedule of 2014, reliance on spies and black operations becomes more important. As the Middle East continues to grow as a threat with deeper partnerships and alliances, ‘trade craft’ and subterfuge are the preferred tools of choice. Opposition to the West by many factions in the Middle East has spread to Latin America as we watch once again, Ahmadinejad completing yet another South America friendship tour. Please review the country by country nuclear index.

Please take a look at this map of worldwide conflicts and who is involved.

The Obama re-election campaign is in full swing and gutting our military as Commander in Chief is reckless pandering to his liberal base, despite re-focusing the message. Obviously, war is expensive on many fronts especially with the risk to warriors being so steep, but not applying all the tools within the Rules of Engagement and making large use of political correctness was reckless, for the sake of the Muslim world and its radical Islamization and Caliphate objectives. This has forced the United States to be at war much longer than our own abilities dictated, wars that should have ended long ago.

But this is a political season, and re-designing the military due to forced economic woes instead of heady, unpressed re-design efforts designed to secure our future, we get deep, dangerous cuts with political spin. This is a recipe for disaster, yet Obama tried to couch it in terms that pre-empt comparisons to past failures of past administrations and his own mis-handling of our current economic crises.

From the Denver Post article: President Obama recruits military to outflank congressional Republicans on defense budget

For a president denounced by Republican rivals as a weak and irresponsible commander in chief, the show of military support represented a political windfall for Obama as he begins campaigning in earnest for a second term.

But it also marked an evolution in Obama’s practice of Washington politics, evidence that after being outmaneuvered by congressional Republicans several times, he does not intend to make the same mistakes in an election year.

Hence, they set up a wonderful photo-op for a speech, and make no mistake, it was a forced photo-op, after-all, as Commander-in-Chief, those soldiers and their brass are mandated to be there, and Leon Panetta is a political appointment he made only recently. From the Star Tribune:

Here we go again. President Obama made the same mistake Thursday in announcing his new military strategy that virtually all of his predecessors have made since the end of World War II.

He said: “Moreover, we have to remember the lessons of history. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past — after World War II, after Vietnam — when our military was left ill-prepared for the future. As commander in chief, I will not let that happen again. Not on my watch.”

Unfortunately, Obama’s plan does exactly that. It forgets the lessons of history.

So, we have a gutted military infrastructure facing our nation, a failed cyber war, and too many lost or foresaken diplomatic victories. That is not leadership. It is clearly political ideology, disguised and veiled under false pretenses to foster “fundamental change’!

The 'sum of all his actions' – radically change, including the DoD

Editor’s Note – The following article was penned and posted by Hugh Hewitt on his web site and is indicative of how SUA sees the diabolical way the Obama administration, piece by piece, is fundamentally transforming America as he stated he would in November of 2008. Unfortunately, adding up all the pieces, many very small, some huge, all contribute to a change Americans did not bargain for when voting in the 2008 Presidential Election. Now, he deftly plays his cards for more change, and for your vote in 2012.

We are poorer than ever, the individual net worth of the many Americans is below zero, the jobs market is still abysmal, housing has not stopped crashing, and now, our military is being gutted. As Hewitt writes, its about not addressing the 900 pound gorilla in the room, entitlements. Why, because that is Obama’s power base, and a megalomaniac craves power, and to gain more, he needs to reduce the power of others, unfortunately, that means we continue to be less secure every day.

Approximately 270 Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 1 returned home to Camp Pendleton in September following a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan. It was announced Thursday that defense cuts could result in 27,000 fewer troops in the Marine Corps.

The North County Times, the newspaper serving Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California shows one of those massive reductions, a drop of over 27,000 individual Marines from the standing 202,000. This will seriously reduce the capability of the USA to handle multiple situations in this asymmetrical world of dangers.

We watch the administration usurp and grab power, meanwhile the sucking sound of power transferring means every thing else in America suffers. We have heard the phrase ‘sum of all fears’, in Obama’s case, its the ‘sum of all his actions’ that should be feared.

Can you itemize anything America has gained since January of 2009?

The Radical President’s Radical Plans for the Pentagon

By Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt.com

President Obama’s plan to slash the size of the American military by at least 10% is dangerous and covered in a deceitful “strategic reassessment,” which is a crude attempt to deflect attention from the bottom line of a much shrunken American military.

There is a fiscal crisis, but it isn’t because of defense spending but because of entitlements which the president will not discuss in detail much less reform. Dramatic cuts in the number of soldiers, sailors and Marines are a substitute for the hard work of shrinking the payout state and cutting off the president’s favored constituents.

Search the reporting on the radical downsizing announced yesterday for hard numbers. You won’t find them. The president is trying –thus far successfully with the assistance of the MSM– to downsize the American military under the cover of the GOP primaries. The failure of the Supercommittee and the train wreck of the debt ceiling showdown this past summer has left the House GOP divided and its freshman caucus demoralized and apparently defeated. But the House GOP simply has to rally to save the Pentagon from the president’s wildly irresponsible plans.

I interviewed House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon yesterday (transcript here) and a member of his committee, Virginia’s Rob Wittman who also serves as chair of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of Armed Services (transcript here.) Please read their assessments and call your representatives and senators to demand these cuts be stopped and the military preserved at its present strength. A Harry Reid-led Senate so dysfunctional that cannot even pass a budget in three years ought not to be in charge of the nation’s defenses and ought not to be allowed to cooperate in the gutting of the American military.

“Fund the Marine Corps not NPR” should be the theme of a growing pro-defense movement. The Ron Paul-led isolationist slice of the country has seen it voice amplified by the GOP debates, but the Iowa caucus showed again that it is a tiny, tiny part of the GOP and should be pushed aside by the traditional demand of Republicans for a strong and vibrant military defined by a 300 plus-ship Navy and the modern era doctrine of the ability to successfully fight two wars at the same time.

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have got to avoid being drawn into the sorts of fights the MSM loves –like Rick Santorum’s dust-up on same sex marriage with college students yesterdayy– and instead must insist that the campaign focus on the president’s radical fiscal irresponsibility at home and appeasement abroad, now backed by a plan to hollow out the American military.

Mark Steyn and I talked about the president’s plans for the Pentagon yesterday. Here’s that exchange:

HH: Today, the President announced that the condition, the first condition that allows for that upward mobility in American prosperity, the American military, which defends sea lanes and allows prosperity, they are tandem. I know you’ve argued you lose your military when you lose your economy. But he’s not waiting to lose the economy, Mark Steyn. He’s going to cut tens of thousands of active duty uniformed personnel, billions more from an already skinnied-down Defense budget. It’s, I have talked today with Congressman Buck McKeon of California, who’s chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Congressman Rob Wittman, sub-committee chairman of the Armed Services Committee. It’s an outrageous assault on the American Defense posture.

MS: That’s true, but as you indicated at the beginning, in a certain sense, it’s inevitable. You can have big government at home, or you can have an assertive national defense that can project force to any corner of the planet abroad. But you can’t have both. I mean, if you look at the United Kingdom between the 1950s and the 1990s, in a sense, social spending and Defense spending sort of more or less inverted. This is, by the way, where I disagree with Ron Paul. When Ron Paul romanticizes the 19th Century isolationist republic of the founders’ vision, he forgets that there was a global order at make on the planet then. It was called the Royal Navy. And America benefited from the fact that the Royal Navy patrolled the oceans.

HH: Yup.

MS: It was, there is no one to succeed to America’s role as America succeeded to Britain’s role. And it simply, and what I think is dangerous about this is that both on the left and the right, there are people who think that the books can be balanced on the backs of the military. And in fact, if you abolish the entire Pentagon, it doesn’t actually, it’s barely the size of the most recent debt ceiling increase requested by Obama. So it’s not going to do it. You can actually get rid of the whole Pentagon, sell off every aircraft carrier, sell the nukes to North Korea and Iran, and Sudan, and anyone else who wants them, and it still won’t solve the fiscal crisis, the fiscal abyss into which America has lower itself into.

HH: Because that is a Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid-driven abyss. That’s all…

MS: That’s right. And in fact, I mean, where I agree with, I mean, for example, by about mid-decade, U.S. taxpayers, just in the interest on the debt, are going to be covering the entire cost of the Chinese military. No nation can afford to pay both for its own military and its principal rivals. And that’s why although I think that there are certainly savings to be made in the military budget, and I certainly think an awful lot of money is wasted in the military budget, the idea of using the military as an excuse not to go after the big social spending, I think, is wicked, and delusional, both from the left and the right.

“Wicked” and “delusional” are exactly the sort of terms that the GOP’s would-be nominees need to use about a plan that slashes the military even as Iran threatens to attack our aircraft carriers the next time one enters the Gulf and which is thrusting ahead with its plans for nukes and just as the PRC surges out its new naval forces.

This is so wildly irresponsible that the president chose to announce it while Congress was out-of-town and the steady hands that have long defended defending America like Buck McKeon and Jon Kyl were out of town.

But the MSM simply laid down and most refused to go and find them to comment, which was perfectly possible as shown by my interviews with McKeon and Wittman. The reporters at the Pentagon didn’t even go out and ask what it would mean to, say, the Marines to lose 10 to 15% of their troops, taking the Army from 570,000 to 520,000 and possibly as low as 490,000 and the Marines from 200,000 to at or below 180,000. To say, as the Washington Post did, that “new military strategy, contained in an eight-page document, will guide wrenching decisions on defense cutbacks,” isn’t reporting. “Details will be made public in the next few weeks as the White House finalizes its proposed federal budget for the next fiscal year,” is cooperation with the Administration in cloaking the huge national security cut-backs. (The Post to its credit at least managed to find McKeon for a quick quote and the Wall Street Journal managed to allot one quick aside to John McCain before quoting a retired general who supported the president’s plans and a left wing think-tanker who wants even more radical cuts.)

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are both strong supporters of a robust American military and of increased defense spending. Romney’s speech on foreign and defense policy delivered at The Citadel in October laid out his vision and he needs to return to it in the debates on Saturday and Sunday, and throughout the campaign. If Santorum’s momentum continues, he too will have to lay out the specifics of his defense plans, but he has a very reassuring record as a national security realist.

Both men have to show the way on the issue to a confused and disorganized D.C. GOP, and face down the isolationists as well as the deficit hawks who don’t care or who don’t understand what is coming at America and its allies from Iran in the near term and the PRC in the medium term.

Whatever the questions are from the ABC and NBC hosts this weekend, the candidates have to make sure that debate over America’s military and thus its “common defense” gets the attention it must have.

(SUA has not changed or altered any portion of the article above for accuracy of message)

Panetta – Off to the ME for Egypt/Israel Talks

Editor’s Note – Leon Panetta is about to rack up the frequent flyer miles with planned travels to the Middle East to get talks underway with Israel and Egypt. The Middle East is in chaos, festering, with no end in sight. Israel is surrounded by threats and unrest along every inch of her border and attacks are frequent in many locations. Mubarak, while in power did maintain command and control of factions and intelligence yet since his ousting, the Muslim Brotherhood has assumed leadership and is growing in popularity. The MB have their own agenda and friendships that have proven to be in full opposition of all current policies between the two nations.

U.S. defense secretary heads to Israel, then Egypt

CNN

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Sunday en route to the Middle East that he plans to offer American assistance so that Israel can “improve relations with … neighboring countries,” some of which have been caught up in the Arab Spring.

US Secretary of Defense and outgoing JC Chairman Adm. Mullins

Besides Israel, Panetta’s trip — his first to the region since being appointed defense secretary — will take him to Egypt as well as Belgium.

He said that, at his first stop, he plans to press both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to engage in talks, according to a story from the official U.S. military press service. Meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, among others, are on his schedule.

Tensions in that region are high in part over the Palestinian Authority’s push for recognition by the United Nations and Israel’s plans to build 1,100 new homes in disputed territory in south Jerusalem.

Israel announced Sunday that it supports the Middle East Quartet’s call for direct talks with Palestinian leaders to resume within a month.

Israel supports call for direct talks with Palestinians

Abbas has said repeatedly that the Palestinians would not return to negotiations until Israel halts all settlement construction and agrees to redraw borders so they mirror those in place before the 1967 war. And top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat reiterated Sunday that Palestinians “want to hear from” Israel, but only if these conditions — which he claims the Quartet backs — were first met.

In his discussions with Israeli leaders, Panetta said Sunday that he will reaffirm “our strong security relationship” and “make clear that we will protect their qualitative military edge … that, as they take risks for peace, that we will be able to provide the security they need.”

He also offered U.S. help to Israel to improve its recently deteriorating relationships with some neighbors, “particularly … Turkey and Egypt.”

Turkey and Israel continue to be at odds in the aftermath of an Israeli commando raid on the SS Mavi Marmara heading to the blockaded Gaza Strip that resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists. Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expelled Israel’s ambassador over that nation’s refusal to apologize for the incident.

Public opposition in Egypt, meanwhile, against its peace treaty with Israel appears to be growing, while protesters last month attacked Israel’s embassy.

That still unsettled nation, where a peaceful revolution culminated in the February ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak, will be Panetta’s next stop.

Frustrations with Egypt’s military rulers grow

A military-led council then took over, promising reforms and a new government. But frustrations have continued to simmer, and a coalition of 60 political parties and groups — including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood — last week threatened to boycott November’s parliamentary elections unless the military rulers meet specific demands.

Panetta will meet with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, as well as Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, according to the U.S. military press service. He said Sunday that he intends to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to a strong, long-term military relationship with Egypt. The U.S. secretary thanked Tantawi for his quick response in September, after the Israeli embassy attack.

Later, Panetta will head to Brussels, Belgium, for a meeting of NATO defense ministers. The coalition has been involved in a number of ongoing military campaigns, including over Libya and in Afghanistan.

Eight NATO troops die in Afghanistan

Besides optimizing success and learning from such missions, he acknowledged that nations’ tight budgets might affect how the alliance goes about its mission.

“It’s very important now, as we face those budget constraints, to try to develop approaches that allow us to share capabilities, allow us to share technologies and allow us to work together closely in order to ensure that NATO can fulfill its role of providing security,” Panetta said Sunday, according to the U.S. military account.