- Associated Press - Thursday, January 6, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will cut $78 billion from the Pentagon budget in the next five years, money that will come from shrinking the U.S military’s ground force, increasing health care premiums for troops and other potentially unpopular cost-saving measures.

The plan, announced Thursday, identifies a separate $100 billion in savings found by the services, including the cancellation of a $14 billion amphibious Marine vehicle. However, the services will be allowed to reinvest that money in new weapon systems and programs that benefit troops.

The move is part of a broader effort to trim fat from the military’s budget in light of the ballooning U.S. deficit. But parts of the plan could run into opposition from Congress.

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