Geoff Morrell, the spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, has issued a formal statement on Gates' behalf in reaction to the president's speech today. The full statement:
Secretary Gates believes the Department of Defense cannot be exempt from efforts to bring federal deficit spending under control. However, it is important that any reduction in funding be shaped by strategy and policy choices and not be a budget math exercise. The President's direction gets the sequence right by conducting a comprehensive review first and only then making decisions on specific funding options.
The President acknowledged that the Department of Defense has been at the forefront in paring back unneeded, duplicative and obsolete programs and administrative overhead. He wants us to continue this effort with the goal of significant additional savings over the coming decade. By the same token, the Secretary has been clear that further significant defense cuts cannot be accomplished without reducing force structure and military capability. The comprehensive review of missions, capabilities, and America's role in the world will identify alternatives for the President's consideration. The Secretary believes that this process must be about managing risk associated with future threats and national security challenges and identifying missions that the country is willing to have the military forgo.