Report: Military realignment to emphasize drones and special forces

United States Air Force

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will outline on Thursday elements of the Pentagon's $525 billion fiscal 2013 budget, including a plan to "expand its global network of drones and special-operations bases" even as it cuts back on conventional forces, The Wall Street Journal reports. The proposed budget will include the first of $487 billion in cuts over 10 years.

The plan calls for a 30 percent increase in the American drone fleet in coming years. It also seeks a 10 percent increase in special-operations forces over the next four years, from 63,750 this year to 70,000 in 2015, and the deployment of more special-operations teams at "lily pad" bases around the globe where "they can mentor local allies and launch missions," according to The Journal.

Despite the emphasis on drones and special-operations forces, the Pentagon still plans to invest in more conventional equipment, including the F-35 stealth fighter as a "counterweight to rising power, including China," though the department will announce this week that it "is going to slow procurement of the new plane."

In addition, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that, as a part of the plan, the Army is planning to cut as many as 13 brigades.
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